TORONTO -- The Carolina Hurricanes moved into the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with a 4-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday.
Dougie Hamilton scored twice for the Hurricanes (44-29-7), who lead the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens by one point for the first wild card and are two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
"These guys, they play hard, and we don't always get the wins and things don't always go our way but we know what kind of effort we're going to get and I thought it was pretty solid," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We had a couple of little lapses there but our goaltender (Petr Mrazek) came up huge when he needed to, and I thought we were the better team overall."
[WATCH: All Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs highlights]
John Tavares scored for the Maple Leafs (46-27-7), who will finish third in the Atlantic Division. Garret Sparks made 33 saves.
"We were just a little sluggish to start coming off yesterday's game and obviously we had a team that was extremely desperate coming in here," Tavares said. "We have to be at a better level than we were to start the game in the first half. Then we started to do some good things but giving up the third goal obviously made it difficult."
Jordan Staal had a goal and an assist for Carolina, and Mrazek made 23 saves for his 100th NHL win.
"Can't say enough about Petr," Brind'Amour said. "We had some major breakdowns and he came up with four or five in the third period alone that would definitely have changed the momentum or who knows what would have happened. He was the difference in the game in my opinion."
The Hurricanes went up 1-0 at 18:03 of the first period when Justin Williams' shot from behind the net banked off Sparks' skate.
Video: CAR@TOR: Williams scores from sharp angle
"He (defenseman Martin Marincin) just poked it as it was coming in and it just came to the wrong spot, exactly where I didn't need it to go," Sparks said. "I don't know, it's not even a situation where you are typically down because the puck is behind the net. Just a tough bounce."
Hamilton made it 2-0 at 2:13 of the second period on the power play when he banked a shot off Sparks' pad from behind the net.
"Good all-around game. We had timely goals and some luck too, but Petr played great again," Hamilton said. "He's just been playing that way all the time so it's nothing new for us to see him like that and probably the biggest reason why we won."
Tavares cut the lead to 2-1 at 10:55 on the power play when he put in his own rebound in the slot.
Video: CAR@TOR: Tavares knocks in own rebound for PPG
Staal made it 3-1 at 9:36 of the third period when Nino Niederreiter stole a pass from Travis Dermott and passed to Staal in the slot.
"That was a big goal by him to give us a little breathing room leading by two goals," Mrazek said. "It gave us some life and I think we did a really good job after that."
Hamilton scored into an empty net with 48 seconds left for the 4-1 final. It was his NHL career-high 18th goal of the season.
Video: CAR@TOR: Hamilton nets second goal into empty net
"A lot of stuff is going in right now," Hamilton said. "I'm pretty happy obviously scoring that many goals, but I also look back at the start of the season when I was kind of unlucky. I think I can do better but it's a lot of goals, so I'm happy."
They said it
"It's a lot of fun. We've been playing basically playoff hockey for a while now. We were pretty low in the standings around Christmas and we've just taken it day by day and had a good stretch. Hopefully we can keep it going for two more games and see where that takes us." -- Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton
"We've got to keep challenging ourselves to continue to find ways to get better and continue to up our game as a team, and then it kind of falls to each individual to be best prepared for what is coming. We've got some good tests coming up and we have a lot to play for." -- Maple Leafs forward John Tavares on the last two games of the regular season
Need to know
Dermott played his 100th NHL game, and Marincin played his 200th NHL game. … Mrazek is 10-2-0 in his past 12 starts. … Tavares has nine points (seven goals, two assists) in his past seven games.
Hurricanes: Host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, FS-CR, MSG, NHL.TV)
Maple Leafs: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TSN4, SUN, NHL.TV)
Video: Hamilton, Staal lead Hurricanes past Leafs in 4-1 win