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.
"We weren't happy with the last couple games, especially our starts. I thought we had an okay one tonight," Howard said.
Jonathan Bernier surrendered four goals on 28 shots in Toronto's eighth straight regulation loss.
"It's always tough when you lose and the situation that we've put ourselves in amps it up tenfold," said Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle.
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.