Undermanned Wings look to put hurting on Rangers
Sunday, 12.06.2009 / 7:00 PMBrian Hunter
- NHL.com Staff Writer
RED WINGS (13-10-5) at RANGERS (14-13-1)
Detroit 3-5-2; New York 4-6-0
These Original Six rivals meet for the only time this season. They last met at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 18, 2008, with the Red Wings taking a 5-4 thriller on a Marian Hossa goal 23 seconds into overtime. Aaron Voros rallied the Rangers from a 3-2 deficit with a pair of goals early in the third, but Jiri Hudler scored on the power play with 3:39 remaining to force the extra period.
Both teams play for the second time in as many nights, and neither has had an easy go of things early in the season. Detroit is dealing with injuries that have taken several key players out of the lineup, while New York is searching for a line other than the Marian Gaborik unit that can provide offense. The Rangers are also 24th in the League in team goals-against average despite having the accomplished Henrik Lundqvist in net.
A spirited comeback Saturday night in which Detroit rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits against New Jersey still ended in a 4-3 shootout loss. Ex-Devils defenseman Brian Rafalski
missed his second game in a row for the Red Wings with a back injury, the latest in a growing list of casualties, and a slow start came back to cost them in the end.
"We're missing a lot of guys," goaltender Chris Osgood
said. "We played hard. It's a tough team to play against. They're real good defensively. It was a wake-up call for us. We've really got to play better the first half of games than we have the last three or four games."
Two players New York needs to contribute more scored big goals Saturday in Buffalo. Christopher Higgins, acquired from Montreal in the offseason for Scott Gomez, opened the scoring and Ryan Callahan's goal in the third held up as the game-winner as the Rangers edged the Sabres 2-1 to snap a three-game losing streak. Lundqvist carried a shutout into the final minute and finished with 36 saves.
"I think we competed harder tonight," Callahan said. "Those loose-puck battles, we wanted to win them, and we did win them. And that was the biggest thing. I thought we had a solid 60 minutes."
Veteran forwards Tomas Holmstrom
and Kris Draper
are producing for the Wings. Each has two goals and two assists in his last four games. Holmstrom leads the team with 11 goals after scoring on the power play against the Devils.
Gaborik assisted on Higgins' goal against the Sabres and continues to be a model of consistency for the Rangers. His 38 points are second in the League to Joe Thornton and he has at least one point in 25 of New York's 28 games this season.
Rafalski joins a list for Detroit that includes defensemen Niklas Kronwall
(MCL sprain) and Andreas Lilja (post-concussion symptoms), and forwards Johan Franzen
(knee surgery), Valtteri Filppula
(broken wrist) and Jason Williams (broken fibula).
New York forward Donald Brashear is out with a hand injury. Forward Brandon Dubinsky (broken right hand) and defenseman Wade Redden (right shoulder) are on injured reserve.
Gaborik leads the Rangers in goals (21), points (38), plus-minus (plus-8), power-play goals (9), shots (97) and shooting percentage (21.6 percent). Vinny Prospal has 20 assists, tops in that category.
"This is a team that I know has a few injuries," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said of Detroit. "It was the right time to play them and get a win." Can the Rangers take similar advantage and get a winning streak going?