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Helm's hat trick leads Wings past free-falling Leafs
Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - Darren Helm's first career hat trick came at an opportune time for Detroit.
Behind Helm and 25 saves from Jimmy Howard, the Red Wings boosted their postseason chances with a 4-2 win over the free-falling Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.
Gustav Nyquist remained red-hot as he scored the other Detroit goal, extending his point streak to eight games.
The Red Wings, who snapped a three-game losing streak, maintained a grip on one of the Eastern Conference's two wild-card spots. Detroit has the same amount of points as Columbus, but the Blue Jackets have more non-shootout wins.
Jonathan Bernier surrendered four goals on 28 shots in Toronto's eighth straight regulation loss.
The Maple Leafs are two points out of a playoff spot, but have played two more games than Columbus and Detroit.
Helm completed the hat trick at 8:38 of the third period, blazing down the right wing and faking a shot before slipping the puck home to make it 4-2.
The Red Wings played the final 1:36 down a skater as Helm served a tripping penalty. Toronto pulled Bernier to create a 6-on-4 advantage that netted a handful of chances, but no goals.
Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson opened the scoring with a blast from the right point after a faceoff win at 10:57 of the first period.
Toronto had an early second-period power play, but it was the Red Wings who capitalized.
Denied by Bernier on a short-handed breakaway, Helm forced a turnover and got the puck back from Joakim Andersson before tying the score on a backhand at 3:05.
Nyquist gave Detroit the lead 1:32 later. Johan Franzen stickhandled into the Toronto zone and had his shot blocked, but Nyquist pounced on the loose puck and beat Bernier on a wrister from the slot at 4:37.
Helm made it 3-1 when he supplied a screen in front of Bernier and had Jakub Kindl's shot from atop the right circle deflect off his stick at 7:57 of the second.
Shortly after the Red Wings failed to stretch their lead further on a four- minute power play, the Maple Leafs closed the gap to 3-2 on a delayed call. Morgan Rielly drew a penalty on Helm on a rush and managed to sweep the puck to the slot while on his stomach. Joffrey Lupul collected the pass and fired a shot behind Howard 1:03 prior to the second intermission.
Mike Babcock earned his 410th win as Detroit's head coach, tying Scotty Bowman for second place on the club's all-time list. Jack Adams holds the record with 413 wins ... Nyquist has 10 goals and two assists during his point streak.
03/29 22:15:10 ET