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Auston Matthews, right, congratulates Maple Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov after beating the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on April 1.Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Against Florida on Monday, Auston Matthews had another one of those nights.

It’s some ineffable combination of skill, feel and luck. This year, Matthews has had more of it than anyone else. His first of two goals was typical.

While T.J. Brodie broke in from the point – wait, ‘broke’ may be too active a word … While T.J. Brodie shuffled in from the point, Matthews took up position in front of the Florida net.

As Brodie chugged unimpeded behind the goal, Matthews drifted backward across the goalmouth.

As Brodie began to turn, Matthews took up a sentry position at the open side of the net.

The man who was meant to be covering Matthews, Sam Reinhart, didn’t notice. He was contemplating the inevitability of death or wondering if he’d left the stove on or something.

Brodie put the puck on Matthews’s stick through a thicket of bodies. All Matthews had to do was stand still. Fun goal. His 61st on the year.

As Matthews scored that goal, you were thinking about something Panthers coach Paul Maurice said in the pregame.

Since no one attached to the Leafs had a single interesting public thought, the people who ask the questions crave philosophy. Maurice has a ton of it.

“I’m not a huge believer in momentum, or in regular-season success,” he said that morning.

“I have an understanding that around here, things will occasionally be made bigger than they were,” he also said.

“Never,” someone shot back.

“Well, once,” Maurice said. “Once, back in the fifties.”

A lot of nodding and laughing.

“If [the Leafs and Panthers] see each other again in two weeks [in the first round of the playoffs], no one’s going to remember this game,” Maurice said. “Except for you guys.”

That’s the line you were thinking of as Matthews scored. What Maurice says is probably true, but the rememberers will be right. Whether the Leafs end up with the Panthers or the Bruins in the first round, keep Monday’s game in mind.

The Leafs won, but it was a regular-season sort of win. A very Leafs kind of win. Back and forth, loosey goosey, scoring on Florida mistakes, with a little bit of goalie’ing thrown in. That was the story for two periods.

Then, in the third, the speed wobble that anyone who watches even a little Leafs hockey is used to. Everything that was going right starts going wrong. Low-grade panic sets in. The crowd starts making a keening noise every time the other team comes up the ice. The game is still in the bag, but no one in the building believes it.

That’s what a regular-season Leafs game against a good team looks like – and that’s if things go well.

Matthews‘s fun goal was a regular-season goal. If he tries that same move in the postseason while T.J. Brodie floats around the net at the speed of smell, he will be decapitated where he stands.

Florida lost 6-4, but talked afterward like it was a successful research mission.

“Be aggressive, relax a little bit and, most important, try to protect the slot in front of the net,” said Vladimir Tarasenko.

In other words, do your job, have fun and, most important, remember to hurt people.

Maybe this is what Maurice and others mean when they say they don’t believe in momentum in the NHL.

‘Momentum’ suggests that as long as you are doing well in one phase, you are likely to do well in the next. In the hockey context, that works if you’re talking about February into March or a road trip into a homestand.

But the playoffs is not the next phase of the regular season. It’s a whole other thing. You play a different way, on a different schedule, against the same team for two weeks. The regular season is checkers. The postseason is full-body-contact chess.

So are the Leafs ready for this new phase against a team like Florida?

Nothing about Monday night suggested they are. They scored easy goals from spots that will not be available in three weeks time. They couldn’t stop the other team from imposing its will after the game should have already been over.

A couple of difference makers stood out. First, Matthews. Easy goals or no, he keeps scoring them. Maybe he is now able to find his spots even when the other team treats him like the target of a search-and-destroy mission. If so, that would be new. Only one way to find out.

Second, goalie Ilya Samsonov. When Samsonov is bad, he talks a lot. He becomes a typical North American – in touch with his feelings. Far too in touch.

On Monday night, monosyllable Samsonov showed up instead.

“Interesting for fans,” was his judgment of the game.

When someone asked him about the times he’d lost track of the puck around his body and flopped on it, he pretended not to understand. These are positive signs.

On Wednesday, the Leafs will have another chance to test the momentum vs. whole-new-you playoff theory against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Tampa has had a dreary season, but has jumped a level recently. A lot of that is down to the return to form of goalie Andriy Vasilevskiy.

Is that momentum? Or is it a rediscovery of that thing that made them a dynastic power? They haven’t changed all that much since then. They just seemed to burn out for a couple of years. If they’re back, that’s a problem for everyone else.

Beating Tampa would be great. It would be better to beat them in a playoff way.

This time of year is not so much about the Leafs convincing the Floridas and Tampas of the league that they have changed. Teams like the Panthers won’t believe that until they see it.

But before that can happen, the Leafs have to convince themselves. These next two weeks are the only time they can do that.

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