Here's some news for opponents of the New York Rangers: They don't actually need Mark Messier to win big games.

The Rangers' team captain and leading scorer was missing from the lineup Sunday because of back spasms. Nevertheless the defending Stanley Cup champions beat Philadelphia 2-0 and clinched a playoff berth on their next-to-last game of the regular season.

``I think if anything, it was important to have a good game without Messier in the lineup,'' said Rangers defenseman Kevin Lowe.

The Flyers played for the most part without their captain and league-leading scorer Eric Lindros, who suffered facial injuries early in Sunday's game. But that did not detract from the performance of the Rangers, who had taken their battle for a playoff berth down to the final week of the season.

``We played a desperate game,'' Rangers defenseman Jeff Beukeboom said. ``I think you're going to see more of that in the playoffs. We were missing Mark and it didn't affect the way we played. I hope we play the same style with or without Mark.''

The big road victory saved the Rangers from having to go down to the last game of the season to salvage a playoff berth. The Montreal Canadiens were the last team to win the Stanley Cup and miss the playoffs the following year. The Canadiens won in 1969, but failed to make the playoffs in 1970.

Elsewhere, it was Washington 2, Florida 2; Boston 5, Pittsburgh 2; Chicago 4, Detroit 0; St. Louis 4, San Jose 3; Los Angeles 2, Anaheim 1; New Jersey 4, Quebec 2, and Vancouver 6, Calgary 4.

Brian Leetch scored two goals for the Rangers and goaltender Glenn Healy stopped 24 shots for his first shutout of the season.

Lindros, the league's leading scorer, left with 4:25 gone in the first when he suffered a laceration under his left eye and was taken to a hospital for precautionary X-rays. Lindros was released after receiving five stitches under his left eye. His status is day to day, a Flyers spokesman said.

``It's one thing to lose a player before the game starts,'' Philadelphia coach Terry Murray said. ``At least you have another guy who can fill his role. You lose the best player in the league. That, in itself, says a great deal about what is taken away.''

Capitals 2, Panthers 2

At Miami, Keith Jones scored two goals to help Washington tie Florida, eliminating the Panthers from the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Capitals, 5-1-1 in their past seven games, lost any shot at home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs when Boston beat Pittsburgh.

Washington rookie goaltender Jim Carey, now 19-6-3, faced little pressure from the Panthers, who managed just 16 shots. The game was more than 13 minutes old before Florida took its first shot.

Bruins 5, Penguins 2

At Boston, Mariusz Czerkawski's two goals helped the Bruins end more than two years of futility against Pittsburgh.

Boston had lost 12 straight to Pittsburgh since winning 7-0 on Jan. 14, 1993. The Penguins scored 5:56 into the game on the first of two goals by Jaromir Jagr. But the Bruins, who lost at Pittsburgh 4-1 Friday night, got the next four goals before Jagr connected again on a power play for his 30th with 7:27 remaining.

Goalie Craig Billington improved his record to 5-1 with Boston after going 0-6-2 with Ottawa earlier in the season. Pittsburgh's Tom Barrasso, who missed the first 43 games of the season following wrist surgery, stopped 36 shots in his second game of the season.

Blackhawks 4, Red Wings 0

Ed Belfour made 27 saves to record his league-leading fifth shutout as Chicago beat Detroit, which clinched the President's Trophy for the NHL's best record on Saturday.

The home loss ended Detroit's seven-game winning streak against the Blackhawks, who hadn't beaten the Red Wings since a 5-0 victory in Detroit on Jan. 25, 1994. That shutout, also by Belfour, was also the last time Detroit had been held scoreless, a span of 84 games.

Joe Murphy, Gary Suter, Patrick Poulin and Eric Daze scored for Chicago.

``They are a great team,'' Chicago coach Darryl Sutter said of the Red Wings. ``But it was a break to be playing them the day after they clinched the President's Trophy. The game didn't mean much to them.''

Blues 4, Sharks 3

At San Jose, Brendan Shanahan's goal and assist led the Blues over the Sharks, who remained in a heated race for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

The Sharks are locked in a three-way tie for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot with the Kings and Winnipeg with two games left. With 39 points, those three were one ahead of 11th-place Edmonton, which did not play Sunday.

The Blues (27-14-5) have already clinched a playoff bid, sitting comfortably behind Detroit in the Central Division standings.

``(The Sharks) played desperate hockey,'' said Blues goaltender Curtis Joseph, who has a 13-1-0 career record against San Jose. ``If San Jose makes the playoffs, I don't see why they can't surprise teams this year, too.''

Kings 2, Mighty Ducks 1

At Los Angeles, Wayne Gretzky snapped a 10-game goal-scoring drought with a power-play goal and Rob Blake also scored with a man advantage as the Kings remained in the playoff picture with a victory over Anaheim.

The Kings moved into a three-way tie for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot, while the last-place Ducks were eliminated in their second season in the NHL.

Winnipeg was idle and will play host to the Kings on Tuesday.

Devils 4, Nordiques 2

New Jersey set up a playoff rematch with Boston by getting a goal and an assist from John MacLean and Neal Broten in defeating visiting Quebec.

Martin Brodeur had 29 saves as the Devils stretched their unbeaten streak to three (2-0-1) to settle the 4-5 pairing, but not the home-ice advantage, in the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins can guarantee home-ice for the first-round, best-of-7 series by tying either of its last two games or having New Jersey either tie or lose its final game. The Devils beat Boston last year in the Eastern Conference semifinal round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Canucks 6, Flames 4

At Vancouver, Roman Oksiuta had the tiebreaking goal as the Canucks scored four straight times in the third period to beat Calgary.

The Flames scored four times in the second period to take a 4-2 lead before the Canucks rebounded in the third when they outshot Calgary 22-2.

Pavel Bure, Trevor Linden, Oksiuta and Josef Beranek scored in the third, with Oksiuta snapping home the winner at 16:48 before Beranek hit an empty net with 24 seconds remaining.