The Maple Leafs dominated the game for the first two periods and scored twice in the final six minutes to leave Air Canada Centre with a 5-3 victory and their first playoff berth since 2012-13, their second in the past 12 years.
Head coach Mike Babcock advised his group to embrace the nerves and enjoy the moment.
In the NHL's version of the Hunger Games, the odds are not in Toronto's favour.
"I thought it would be like this - you have to really crawl in at the end".
Goaltending prospect Tristan Jarry was called up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for Saturday's game against the Leafs.
"I think we've done a good job against them this year", forward Daniel Winnik said.
For a few minutes in the second period on Sunday, the Toronto Maple Leafs gave us all a tremendous playoff tease.
Connor Brown scored the game-winner on a deflection at 17:12 after former Penguin Kasperi Kapanen picked up his first National Hockey League goal at 14:30 courtesy of a no-look pass from Matt Hunwick. Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said, "we're at the point where we can't give up any points". We have to stay more composed. He went on to become the fourth rookie in League history to score 40 goals in a season before his 20th birthday, joining Dale Hawerchuk, Sylvain Turgeon and Mario Lemieux. "Ideally, a couple of years from now, we'll be good enough to get in even if we have injuries".
"I was happy to get back".
"Well I think it's a way different thing for our team", Babcock said before Sunday's 3-2 loss to Columbus.
Babcock said he spent the first two years of his Toronto experience with rarely a peep of interaction among his neighbours and now people were talking to him "every single second for the last week so it must be a big deal". We were slow. I don't know if we were tight, but we weren't in sync.
After fellow rising star John Gibson joined the lineup and split the net with him, though, the Ducks made the executive decision to protect themselves from the upcoming expansion draft and dealt Andersen to the Leafs.
The Toronto Blue Jays got off the schneide, winning their first game of the season 5-2 over the Tampa Bay Rays on the strength of a Kendrys Morales grand slam. They'll open the postseason with a best-of-seven series against Minnesota. They're going to be playing their hardest tonight, whereas we might be trying to refuel for the playoffs. "They're a unsafe team".
Toronto built a 2-0 lead early in the second period, but the Blue Jackets stormed back and ripped off three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead. "We know how to play ands we know how to win".
The Maple Leafs struck back 29 seconds later when van Riemsdyk potted his 27th goal of the season from the high slot. It was the third multi-goal game of the season for van Riemsdyk, who last scored two against Boston on February 4.
Toronto's William Nylander hit a goal post nearing the midpoint of the first.
With 55 wins, 118 points and a plus-81 goal differential, the Capitals are much more than a team with Alexander Ovechkin. He returned to a full practice on Friday and is expected to play in one of the team's last two regular-season games.
NOTES: The Penguins recalled C Kevin Porter and G Tristan Jarry from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Saturday, an indication that players could be rested as the team prepares for the playoffs.