When you read the following, keep in mind that this is no April Fool’s prank.

a) The Maple Leafs actually won a game.

b) David Clarkson actually scored a goal.

c) Toronto’s playoff hopes are actually still alive, albeit wafer-thin and slim.

d) The Leafs actually received help on the out-of-town scoreboard.

We would not be so cruel to joke about these things to long-suffering Leafs fans, who have been forced to watch their heroes all but flush away an outstanding opportunity to reach the playoffs by losing eight consecutive regular-season games for the first time since 1985 — Wendel Clark’s rookie season.

Indeed, there remains a pulse in Randy Carlyle’s team, which recorded its first victory in three weeks thanks to a 3-2 triumph over Brian Burke’s Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.

No need to explain the irony there.

“It’s a relief, more for the team than for me,” said Clarkson, whose third-period goal proved to be the eventual game winner. “I can take (the criticism), but this is about the team.

“The biggest thing about scoring was that it helped the team win. Now we have to look ahead.”

Indeed, the Leafs had not been on the winning end of a hockey game in 19 days, a stretch dating back to a 3-2 decision over the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Centre.

That was the same night goalie Jonathan Bernier left after one period with a groin injury.

At that time, there actually was chatter around town about Carlyle’s team vying for home-ice advantage in the first round.

My, how times have changed.

Granted, a victory over the Flames, the 26th-place team in the standings, is hardly reason to start planning a parade route along Bay St.

But, in this case, Carlyle, Dave Nonis and Co. will take anything they can get.

The Leafs now have 82 points in the standings with five games left. In order to reach the 92 point plateau — the total most observers figured would be required to qualify for the playoffs — Toronto will have to win out in home meetings with Boston and Winnipeg, followed by road dates in Tampa, Florida and Ottawa.