NEW YORK (AP) -Erik Christensen scored two of New York's three first-period goals, and the Rangers gave their tenuous playoff hopes a big boost with a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.
Christensen gave New York the lead 21 seconds in, then combined with Vinny Prospal for goals 30 seconds apart that quickly put away the game.
Although the Rangers wouldn't have been eliminated with a loss to Toronto, their realistic prospects for the playoffs would have been all but dashed. But wins in their final two games would get them into the playoffs for the fifth straight season.
The Rangers, ninth in the Eastern Conference, trail Boston by a point, No. 7 Philadelphia by two points, and No. 6 Montreal by three. Those teams have two games remaining, except for Boston, which will play three.
Olli Jokinen and Aaron Voros also scored and Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves for New York, 6-1-1 in its last eight. Dion Phaneuf spoiled Lundqvist's bid for his 25th NHL shutout when he scored with 11:51 left.
DETROIT (AP) - Tomas Holmstrom, Nicklas Lidstrom and Dan Cleary scored in a 1:16 span of the third period in Detroit's comeback victory.
Niklas Kronwall added a goal and an assist, and Jimmy Howard made 21 saves for Detroit. Mike Blunden had a goal and an assist, R.J. Umberger, Sammy Pahlsson also scored, and Steve Mason stopped 31 shots for Columbus.