via ASAP Sports
Q. Coach, you guys fought the valiant fight. What can you say at this point in terms of what happened?
COACH TORTORELLA: I’m not going to explain what happened. I thought we played‑‑ after getting through the first period, I thought we played a really good hockey game.
Q. Just looking at the Playoffs as a whole, do you feel you made it too hard on yourself, playing so many games and not being‑‑
COACH TORTORELLA: No. No. I disagree with you guys on that. That has nothing to do with it. I thought the past couple of games, the second and third periods, we were the better team.
It has nothing to do with being tired. This is part of learning to play. And I couldn’t be happier how we responded after, again, a pretty shaky first period. I thought we were in a good spot going into that overtime.
Q. Are there any words to describe what it feels like when it ends?
COACH TORTORELLA: No. I feel bad for the club. You know how I feel about the team. And I thought they played with balls tonight. I didn’t think‑‑ going into it, I felt really comfortable with the mindset of the club, and I thought they displayed themselves. After a little bit of a struggle, we gathered ourselves and I thought we played two really good periods. I thought it was going to end in overtime. I thought it was going to be us.
Q. You got great hockey out of Fedotenko, Callahan. You didn’t get enough out of Richards or Gaborik.
COACH TORTORELLA: I’m not going to go through the players right now.
Q. This game seems similar to the last game where you fall behind by a couple of goals, tie the game, but you know how to be able to get the go‑ahead goal.
COACH TORTORELLA: We had some chances. Again, I thought we were the better team. I thought the third period we controlled it territorially. And Ritchie has a great chance in the power play. He makes a good save there.
But, again, you could feel it on our bench. We felt very comfortable as we played those last two periods. But they make a big play at the end.
Q. You spend a whole season planning and preparing and plotting, and then it comes down to the scramble in front.
COACH TORTORELLA: That’s the way it happens.
Q. No way to prepare for that.
COACH TORTORELLA: It’s the way it happens.
Q. The starts that you had all the way through, was it just a matter of never getting used to that, their energy level, their forecheck, right from the start, just those first periods?
COACH TORTORELLA: No, we know they’re coming. Give them some credit. They did it through the whole Playoffs. And they’re a pretty good hockey club. They’re a balanced team. And they were a pretty good team.
So we talk about it. We try to get our footing. We struggled a little bit there. But as we go into overtime, I think we’re the better team. But they make the big play.
Q. Do you have a different opinion about this team now than you did at the end of the regular season?
COACH TORTORELLA: About what team?
Q. Your team.
COACH TORTORELLA: Do I have a different opinion?
COACH TORTORELLA: It’s more of even‑‑ I just‑‑ I love our jam. I love our balls. I really like what we have here. I don’t think it will be the same. There’s always changes. But what they have‑‑ what our group has developed in their identity, their mindset, I think showed tonight. Again, we don’t get it done, but I just like the way they handle themselves.
As I said this morning, I thought we struggled a little bit early in this series with our swagger. I think we got that back. Got kicked a little bit early in this game here. But we got our swagger back, and I really thought we were coming. But, again, with we don’t score the big goal and they score one.
Q. You talked the last couple of days about how important it is, not just in this series, but learning about your organization moving forward. What does a series like this and a run like this do you think do for this team moving forward for the young corps that you have?
COACH TORTORELLA: Well, we played 20 playoff games. We played a couple of Game 7s. We’ve been in situations where we’ve had to scramble to win a series.
Me personally, I have found‑‑ I thought there were some really good things. I’m not going to‑‑ with some players and how they handle themselves, and I think there were some struggles with other ones. And these are the evaluations you go through as you gain experience.
We’re still a young club. And we still have quite a bit to learn as far as the desperation, when you get to this third round. I just don’t want us to‑‑ and you hear it so much, and I won’t accept it. You know, you won a couple of rounds. You got into the third round. That isn’t good enough. We still have to find a way to win another round and get there.
I just don’t want this organization to sit still and say, because, prior, it was barely getting into the Playoffs, losing in the first round, maybe getting to the second round.
We have to change our mindset to continue trying to be the best and learn that there’s a lot more hockey to play after you go through a couple. And that’s how I answer Arthur’s question. You can’t be tired. You can’t be tired here, and I don’t think we were.
Q. What positives are you going to take‑‑ what positives do you take from this, particularly with the young guys, how they’ve come along for you?
COACH TORTORELLA: Well, some of them just handle themselves the way they did through the experience. Again, it wasn’t five games. It wasn’t‑‑ I’m not sure what the other years were at least since I’ve been here. We’ve played a lot of playoff hockey. There was a lot of momentum swings and surges, and the best thing is that you need to experience those.
We didn’t finish the way we wanted to. But some guys handled them very well. Some guys didn’t. I’ll be honest with you, some guys didn’t. And those are the things we have to talk about as an organization if we’re going to continue to try to get better.
Q. You’ve talked about what you hope your players may have learned. What have you learned from this experience in the Playoffs?
COACH TORTORELLA: Learned about our team?
Q. No, about yourself.
COACH TORTORELLA: I’m not talking about myself. You guys do enough of that. You guys make your call on that. I’m not going to talk about myself.
But with the team itself, like I said, some really good stuff, but there’s also some things that worry me. And I’m just being totally honest with you there.
Q. In talking about the young guys in the last couple of games, Callahan, seemed like he found his game. Has he found that kind of next level to be, or is this just what you expect of him at this point in his career?
COACH TORTORELLA: He’s still a guy that hasn’t played a whole hell of a lot of playoff hockey, but the last couple of games, I think he knew how important it was to ratchet it up. He had some struggles through the Playoffs.
He’s a little bit banged up. But I really‑‑ the will that he showed, I thought that was very important. As a leader of the club, I really thought he had a will about his game, and it was important. I think it was important for him because it was a little bit of struggle through here, but the last couple of games he certainly led the way, as we tried to crawl back in.
Q. John, what went wrong on the winning goal, anything in particular?
COACH TORTORELLA: I’m not going to pick it apart. You’re really looking for specifics. I’m not going to give any, if you don’t mind. Not right now.