The Leafs were nothing like the outfit that collapsed defensively after scoring goals Wednesday.
Keefe's laundry list of concerns were some of the questionable goals surrendered, but also the breakdowns that led to two in a NY minute (actually six seconds) and another just 34 ticks after Matthews' second goal of the night had given the Leafs some hope. With their own playoff hopes in trouble - Frank Sinatra's Impossible Dream rang out as they came on the ice - the Rangers, like the Panthers on Monday came out with goal and with Chris Kreider healthy again. Mitch Marner had two assists.
Morgan Rielly's status could determine if the Toronto Maple Leafs add a defenseman prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on February 24, general manager Kyle Dubas said.
In all, Toronto gets Clifford and goaltender Jack Campbell, in exchange for forward Trevor Moore, Toronto's third-round pick in 2020, which was previously acquired from Ottawa on July 1, 2019, and a conditional third-round pick in 2021. But McKegg scored an empty-netter to give the Leafs their second consecutive loss.
"We're two points out of a playoff spot, teams ahead of us have games in hand and we're not in a great spot but it's a great test for our guys to develop and grow", Dubas said. Maple Leafs defenseman Justin Holl tried poking the puck free from Kreider, who eluded Holl's efforts and backhanded a shot past Hutchinson.
The victory was critical for Toronto, who pulled in front of Florida for third place in the Atlantic and into a tie with Carolina for the second wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference, but it showed that the club in spite of an improvement between the pipes and the addition of a veteran winger still does not have enough buy-in from their forwards and blueline group to play the type of two-way hockey necessary to achieve success in the postseason.
It wasn't all pretty for the Leafs.
Up 3-1 in the third period and seemingly in complete control, Toronto allowed an opponent to wrestle the momentum away without much of a response for the second time in five days.
Clifford says the family has always been Leaf fans and nobody was a bigger fan than Kyle.
Clifford took off after Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf after a scrum broke out in the Leafs crease following a Campbell stop. Clifford has had strong underlying numbers at 5v5 for the Kings this season, posting a 55.18 CF% and a xGF% of 55.89. This time, Clifford grabbed Getzlaf and wrestled with him.
The Ducks tied it with 7:13 left in regulation when Henrique batted his 18th out of mid-air on a man advantage after Clifford went off for holding the stick.
The Leafs had a golden opportunity to retake the lead late in the period when Jones went off for high-sticking and Grant fired a clearing attempt from his own zone over Campbell's net at the other end of the rink.
Back on the line: Timothy Liljegren replaced Cody Ceci on the Leafs' blue line. Liljegren was with good friend Rasmus Sandin on the third defensive pairing. He has picked up eight points in 54 games while averaging over 20 minutes of ice time per game.
The Rangers regained their lead with two goals just 34 seconds later.
"I don't think the result is in any way indicative of the way the game went", Keefe said.
Get the Star's Sports Headlines email newsletter for a daily round-up of the latest big news. Frederik Gauthier, Martin Marincin were scratched by the Leafs. Andersen was diagnosed with a neck injury, and is listed as day-to-day. Andersen looked solid in solo work sessions this week.