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.
The Rangers, ninth in the Eastern Conference, trail Boston by a point, No. 7 Philadelphia by two points, and No. 6 Montreal by three.
All that is left on the Rangers' schedule is a home-and-home series with Philadelphia A pair of wins, with at least one in regulation, would guarantee the Rangers a spot in the postseason for the fifth straight season.
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.
CHICAGO (AP) - Duncan Keith, Ben Eager, Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg scored in a 3:08 span in the first period in Chicago's fifth straight victory.
Andrew Ladd and Jordan Hendry also scored to help Chicago reach a franchise-record 109 points and tie San Jose for first place in the Western Conference.
Versteeg added three assists to set a career high for points in a game and become the first Chicago player to have a four-point game this season.
David Perron, Roman Polak, Erik Johnson, T.J. Oshie and Brad Boyes scored for the Blues, who nearly overcame a 6-1 deficit. St. Louis played its first game after being eliminated from playoff contention Tuesday night when Colorado beat Vancouver.
DETROIT (AP) - Tomas Holmstrom scored twice and Dan Cleary added a goal 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.