(SportsNetwork.com) - A banged-up Detroit Red Wings club will try to finish an up-and-down road trip on a positive note when they visit the New York Rangers for Thursday's Original Six battle at Madison Square Garden.
The Red Wings will again be without several key forwards on Thursday, as Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Daniel Alfredsson (back spasms), Johan Franzen (concussion) and Darren Helm (groin) are currently sidelined.
However, Detroit expects to have No. 1 goaltender Jimmy Howard back on Thursday after he sat out Sunday's 1-0 loss in Anaheim due to a hip flexor issue.
The Red Wings have alternated wins and losses so far on a five-game road trip, going 2-2-0 during the swing. All told, Detroit has lost four of its last six games and the club has fallen into a tie with Ottawa for fifth place in the Atlantic Division.
After posting a 3-1 win in Los Angeles on Saturday, the Red Wings were dealt a close loss the following night in Anaheim. Jonas Hiller recorded a 22-save shutout and Andrew Cogliano netted the game's only goal in the second period to lift the Ducks to the 1-0 decision.
Petr Mrazek played admirably in defeat, stopping 22-of-23 shots for the Red Wings, who were shut out for the fifth time this season and for the third time since Dec. 15.
"They're finding a way to win every night and we're not finding a way to win every night," Detroit head coach Mike Babcock said of the Ducks. "We would like to be more like them to be honest with you."
Detroit fell to 14-6-3 as the visiting team with Sunday's loss. The club is just 6-10-7 as the host and will begin a five-game homestand with Saturday's rematch against the Kings.
New York, meanwhile, will try to get back on track after having a three-game winning streak halted by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
The Rangers were 2-0 at the start of a four-game homestand before dropping a 2-1 regulation decision to the Lightning. Tampa trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes, but Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov scored nine seconds apart in the second period to give the Bolts the lead for good.
Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop played in his first game since Jan. 5 and allowed just Brad Richards' first-period goal on 34 shots to outduel the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist, who finished with 23 saves.
New York tied a season high with three straight wins and had scored three or more goals in each of those victories before struggling offensively on Tuesday.
"We had enough chances to come back and at the end of the game. We have to find a way to score more goals," said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault.
The loss dropped the Blueshirts to 10-11-3 as the host this season. After closing its homestand tonight, New York will visit Ottawa on Saturday before returning to the Big Apple for a three-game stay at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers notched a 3-2 overtime win in Detroit on Oct. 26 as Derick Brassard scored on a breakaway with 12.9 seconds in the extra session. It was New York's second straight win over the Red Wings, but Detroit still has won 12 of the past 15 meetings in this series.
Detroit also has won seven of the past nine encounters at MSG.