Leafs defeat Coyotes in Keefe's debut behind bench
Christian Petersen / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Sheldon Keefe era has started on a high note.

The Toronto Maple Leafs topped the Arizona Coyotes by a score of 3-1 in Keefe's NHL coaching debut Thursday night, snapping a six-game losing streak in the process.

Keefe was hired Wednesday after Mike Babcock was fired in his fifth season as the Leafs' bench boss.

"More importantly than how we played I just thought we had good energy on the bench. I was really impressed. Obviously, it's my first time being part of the group like that," Keefe said postgame. "The interactions with the players on the bench, the energy, the vibe, the reaction of the players on Barrie's goal - you just see they really care for him as a teammate and really feel good for him. Those types of things are takeaways for me."

Defenseman Tyson Barrie was among those who looked rejuvenated with a fresh voice behind the bench. Barrie had just seven assists in 23 games with a minus-11 rating under Babcock after joining the team with Alexander Kerfoot from the Colorado Avalanche in an offseason trade for Nazem Kadri.

Barrie scored his first goal with his new club Thursday, and, as Keefe noted, the bench was ecstatic:

Barrie was impressed with the strategy Keefe deployed.

"That style that you saw tonight, you're going to see a lot more of it," Barrie told The Athletic's James Mirtle.

Toronto is now 10-10-4 on the season.

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Leafs defeat Coyotes in Keefe's debut behind bench
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