Rangers, Red Wings tangle in NYC
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers will try to sweep their season series against the Detroit Red Wings when the Original Six rivals battle on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers have won three straight over the Red Wings following a five-game slide in the series. New York is 2-0 against Detroit this season, posting a road overtime decision on Oct. 26 before picking up a 1-0 regulation win at the Garden on Jan. 16.
Henrik Lundqvist recorded the shutout on Jan. 16 after making 38 saves for the Rangers. The Swedish netminder expects to get the start on Sunday and is 2-3-1 with a 2.66 goals against average in six career games against the Red Wings.
Jimmy Howard stopped 47-of-48 shots in the tough-luck loss against New York in January. He is 2-1-1 with a 1.72 GAA in four lifetime outings versus the Blueshirts and will get the start on Sunday.
New York enters Sunday's battle as the third-place team in the Metropolitan Division and is one point in back of Philadelphia for second place. The top three teams in each division earn an automatic bid to the playoffs.
Detroit, meanwhile, is currently tied with Columbus for the last of the Eastern Conference's eight playoff seeds, With the Blue Jackets idle on Sunday, the Red Wings have a chance to take sole possession of the second wild card spot.
The Rangers and Red Wings both are coming off victories on Friday night. New York posted a 4-2 win at Carolina, while Detroit slammed the visiting New Jersey Devils by a 7-4 score.
The Blueshirts halted a three-game slide with their win in Raleigh. Derek Stepan's power-play goal with 2:46 remaining highlighted a third-period rally that lifted New York to the 4-2 decision over the Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
All four New York scores came in the final 12:35 of play, with the newly acquired Martin St. Louis setting up Stepan's tally on a 5-on-3 power play that snapped a 2-2 deadlock. The assisted marked the first point for St. Louis in two games with the Rangers since he was acquired Wednesday in the deal that Ryan Callahan to Tampa.
"He made a nice pass," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said of St. Louis. "(The power play) is something that we haven't practiced since Marty's been with us, but he did a good job of explaining what we were looking for and he made a great play."
Both Stepan and Rick Nash finished with a goal and an assist in the Rangers' 10th straight win over Carolina, with Ryan McDonagh adding a shorthanded marker and Carl Hagelin sealing the outcome with an empty netter.
Lundqvist posted 22 saves to pick up the win, his first in four outings since helping Team Sweden pick up a silver medal last month at the Sochi Olympics.
After today's tilt in Manhattan, the Rangers will play three straight and six of their next seven games on the road. New York is 15-15-4 as the host this season and 19-11-0 as the guest.
Detroit had lost two in a row before routing the Devils on Friday. Johan Franzen had two goals and two assists to help the Red Wings notch the 7-4 victory.
Gustav Nyquist posted a goal and three assists and David Legwand had a goal and two assists for the Red Wings. Jonas Gustavsson made 21 stops in the win.
"The guys kept putting in all their chances they were getting and that gave us a lot of energy," said Gustavsson. "It's not every night you score seven goals, but it was fun for the crowd."
Legwand registered a three-point night in his second game with the Red Wings. The veteran forward was acquired from Nashville on Wednesday for forward Patrick Eaves, a conditional third-round pick and forward prospect Calle Jarnkrok.
The 33-year-old Legwand, a native of the Detroit area, skated on the Red Wings top line with Franzen and Nyquist
"Obviously two great players, world-class players. It's an honor to play with them and we had the puck tonight, we were moving it and I think obviously when you can move and skate it's going to create some chances and opportunities," said Legwand, who was named the game's first star.
The Red Wings are playing two straight and three of their next four tests on the road. Detroit is 17-10-4 as the visiting team this season, but has lost two straight and three of its last five games in NYC.