NEW YORK - Two teams jockeying for position in the congested Eastern Conference meet at Madison Square Garden on Thursday as the visiting Detroit Red Wings face off against the New York Rangers.
Detroit, which sits one point behind eighth-place New York, has been idle since dropping a 1-0 decision to Anaheim on Sunday. Upstate New York native Jimmy Howard expects to be in net on Thursday despite dealing with a nagging hip flexor ailment.
New York saw its three-game winning streak come to a halt as Tampa Bay scored twice in a nine-second span to post a 2-1 triumph on Tuesday. Despite the setback, the Rangers are still 8-3-1 in their last 12 and own a 3-2 overtime victory over the Red Wings on Oct. 21. Derick Brassard failed to score against the Lightning, but did so in his previous two games as well as netting the overtime winner versus Detroit.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN (Detroit), MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (20-16-10): Coach Mike Babcock put his team through the paces during Wednesday's practice as he addressed the ailing power play, which has failed to convert on its last 21 opportunities over a five-game stretch.
"We focused a ton on it (Wednesday) and we have to score more goals, but at the same time we can't give up any," Babcock told MLive.com. "I'd like to see us get it on the inside. I like to see us shoot the puck and actually want to be a shooter. I want to see us get some second chances."
Pavel Datsyuk will be out of the team's lineup again with a lower-body injury.
ABOUT THE RANGERS (24-21-3): Veteran Brad Richards has netted three goals and set up five others during a six-game point streak while Rick Nash has found his scoring touch with four tallies in his last five contests. Henrik Lundqvist was a spectator in his team's first meeting with Detroit and owns a 1-3-1 career mark versus the Red Wings. Rookie Cam Talbot made 32 saves in the first meeting but has made only one start in January.
1. Datsyuk was named as Russia's captain as he prepares for his fourth Winter Olympics.
2. New York had scored at least one power-play goal in each of its previous five contests before going 0-for-2 versus Tampa Bay.
3. Red Wings LW Tomas Tatar has recorded three goals and an assist in his last four games.
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