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Matthews: Leafs ‘need to clean up some things’

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15.03.2019

SPORTSCENTRE Reporter

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TSN Toronto reporter Mark Masters checks in daily with news and notes on the Maple Leafs who practised at MasterCard Centre on Thursday.

The Maple Leafs fell behind early in ho​me losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks this week, but it was only the latest example of slow starts plaguing the team. It's been a recurring issue and Mitch Marner says enough is enough.

“It’s something we’ve talked about all year,” Toronto’s scoring leader said, “but, we have to start acting like it’s meaningful and we got to stop talking about it. We just got to do it.”

Toronto has allowed the first goal in six of seven at home getting out-scored 13-3 in the first period of those games.​

There's no panic, but a definite sense of urgency around the team.

"We hold each other accountable in this room," said Auston Matthews, "and tomorrow is a big game for us, I think, in terms of really getting back on track and making sure we put our foot down and start on the right foot."

The schedule has been packed of late with lots of travel and Thursday was actually the first time the Leafs practised at their home facility since Feb. 26. What did they work on?

"We tried to focus on our details," said coach Mike Babcock, "and get back skating and skating like we can. We have to play fast in order to have success. We’ve been slow. We’ve been slow on defence so other teams have more time on the puck and we just trie​d to tighten that up."

After allowing 13 goals in the last seven periods, defence is a focal point.

"We can come better prepared to play," goalie Frederik Andersen said in his post-game scrum on Wednesday. "Once we do start playing for each other I think we're doing well. It's definitely something we need to figure out ... By playing for each other I mean communicating (in the D zone) and stuff like that. I........

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