Make that four in a row for Leafs!

That’s about as close to a Gordie Howe hat trick as Nikolai Kulemin is going to come.

The Maple Leafs forward, eager to leave a dismal first half of the regular season in the dust, had his best performance of 2011-12 in a 2-0 Leafs win against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.

As Jonas Gustavsson made 32 saves for his second shutout in three games, Kulemin scored his fifth goal, set up linemate and buddy Mikhail Grabovski for another and destroyed Sabres pest Patrick Kaleta with an open-ice hit in the third period.

“Kulie had a great game, and as a group, we are all happy for him because he deserves it,” Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. “He has been working really hard and not getting any results. Sometimes that happens. It was a good night for him and hopefully he keeps rolling.”

Kulemin’s career-best 30 goals last season are a distant memory, but his potential has not been a problem. And he is one of the hardest working Leafs, often staying on the ice long after practice with Grabovski to work on his shot.