Matthews had season for the ages as Leafs reach playoffs

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"We're going to find out that it's way different than regular-season hockey".

The Leafs beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night, with Connor Brown ending an evening of intense drama at 17:12 of the third period.

Goalie Frederik Andersen may be outmatched by Holtby, but he has shown he can steal a game or two for Toronto. Fellow forward Bryan Rust has three tallies in his last five contests and scored and set up a goal in the first meeting with Toronto. But it was the instantaneous contributions of the rookies that made the biggest difference from one year to the other along with Babcock behind the bench.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are going back to the playoffs. The defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins have home ice against the Blue Jackets.

Sestito was assessed a minor penalty for goaltender interference at 2:05. Andersen's play hasn't been too strong as of late, which may lead to a goaltending problem for Babcock if things go south quickly against the high-powered Capitals.

"It doesn't matter what Pittsburgh does, we've got to get ourselves right to play and play like we normally do and don't let the excitement of the moment or the energy of the moment or what we're trying to do get in the way of who we are", Toronto coach Mike Babcock said on the heels of Thursday's 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay, which left his team needing to win one of its final two games to reach the playoffs. William Nylander, another one of the Leafs high-flying rookies, has played for Sweden numerous times internationally as well as the Marlies in the American Hockey League playoffs last season. Connor McDavid is riding an National Hockey League season-best 13-game point streak going into game 82 two short of 100.

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Two weeks ago in Buffalo, Andersen was forced to the leave a game against the Sabres with an upper-body injury. The team has to wait to see if that game matters.

- The NHL is expected to announce the first-round schedule once all games are completed Sunday night.

Earlier, at 1:02 of the second, Fleury went behind his net and misplayed a puck.

The Leafs and Penguins were tied 2-2 heading into the second intermission. He couldn't stop Bournival in the opening minutes of the third though, with the fourth liner tapping in Andrej Sustr's shot from behind the goal for a 3-1 lead. The old mark of 25 was set by Dan Daoust during the 1982-83 season.

A win tonight would give the Leafs 95 points. Columbus was resting several of its major players, including Seth Jones, Alexander Wennberg and Zach Werenski is still out with an injury, so the opportunity for Toronto to take advantage of a depleted lineup was right there. There were nights of futility certainly, including against Crosby and Henrik Zetterberg, and he got hammered in the faceoff circle (46.8 percent), but generally Matthews held his own while leading all Leaf forwards in garnering nearly 18 minutes of ice time per night.

James van Riemsdyk continued his recent stretch of inspired play and scored twice to build them an early lead before the Blue Jackets turned it up a notch. He got Toronto on the board with a shortside strike from the left circle, his second goal in as many games. van Riemsdyk came calling again 4:33 later, scoring his 29th of the season and establishing a new career-high of 62 points.