It’s as though the Leafs continually play under an alter ego.
Each man in the lineup looked like Superman in the team’s 5-0 whitewash of the Tampa Bay Lightning, a mere 48 hours after their apparent kryptonite-laden drubbing at the hands of Florida.
The win, coupled with the Islanders’ regulation loss to Winnipeg, propelled the Leafs back into the second wild card playoff spot in the East, as the zigzag race approaches its dramatic conclusion.
Toronto received contributions from unlikely heroes. Roman Polak opened the scoring in the first period, his point shot mesmerizing the usually reliable Andrei Vasilevskiy in the Lightning goal.
Then in the second frame after Morgan Rielly also took advantage of a shaky Tampa goalkeeper, fourth-liner Matt Martin extended the Leafs’ lead to three goals.
Connor Brown then fired home Toronto’s third goal in 3 minutes, 50 seconds, prompting Tampa coach Jon Cooper to insert backup Peter Budaj in the net.
At the other end of the rink , Frederik Andersen was flawless. He made 33 saves in the victory and confidently denied the Lightning at every turn, including on a 5-on-3 power play to end the second period.
James van Riemsdyk rounded out the scoring.
“It’s great to bounce back and play a really good game,” Andersen said to reporters after the game. “I think we played simple, we played the right way. We were shooting from the point and we went hard to the net and created those second opportunities and put them in the net.”
Notes: The outing marked the 500th career NHL game for Tyler Bozak. It was Brian Boyle’s first game against Tampa since being acquired in a trade from the Lightning on February 27.