RED WINGS (20-16-10) at RANGERS (24-21-3)
TV: FS-D, MSG 2
Last 10: Detroit 5-4-1, New York 6-3-1
Season series: This is the second game between the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, who play for the final time at Madison Square Garden on March 9. New York won in Detroit on Oct. 26 when Derick Brassard scored in overtime to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory.
Big story: Each team enters Thursday sitting outside the top three of their respective division. The Red Wings are wrapping up a five-game road trip on which they've gone 2-2-0. The Rangers saw their three-game win streak snapped Tuesday by the Tampa Bay Lightning and continue a stretch through Feb. 6 in which they play 12 of 13 games in New York, including two games at Yankee Stadium.
Red Wings: Detroit continues to deal with a young roster and numerous injuries. Recent call-up Riley Sheahan scored his first NHL goal Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings, and the Red Wings called up right wing Tomas Jurco on Tuesday from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League.
The 2011 second-round pick (No. 35) is another young player the Red Wings have turned to, along with Sheahan, Luke Glendening, Danny DeKeyser, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, to cope with a plethora of injuries to key veterans. Neither Pavel Datsyuk nor Daniel Alfredsson skated Wednesday and appear out for Thursday, as are forwards Johan Franzen and Darren Helm. Goaltender Jimmy Howard is likely to be back after sustaining a hip flexor injury against the Kings on Saturday and sitting out a 1-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.
"More so than anything the muscle itself just felt really fatigued, felt it needed a bit of a break," Howard said Wednesday. "Better to take one night off than to go out there and cause further harm and be out 2-3 weeks."
Rangers: Since acquiring forward Daniel Carcillo from the Kings on Jan. 4, the Rangers have found the balance up front that eluded them for the first three months of the season. With goalie Henrik Lundqvist playing his best hockey of the season and all four lines contributing, New York is 4-1-1 despite a 2-1 loss to the Lightning.
The Rangers enjoyed a day off Wednesday before beginning a stretch in which they will play three games in four days, all against Eastern Conference opponents. The hope is their one-goal performance against the Lightning was a blip on the radar after the Rangers had scored 20 goals in their previous five games.
"We had a lot of chances to get the equalizer throughout the game. We just don't find it," forward Ryan Callahan said. "No matter how good a goalie plays, you have to look at yourself and find a way you could have done something better."
Who's hot: Tatar has three goals and four points in his past four games. … Rangers center Brad Richards has eight points during a six-game point streak. Forward Rick Nash has four goals in his past five games; Lundqvist has allowed two goals or fewer in his past four starts.
Injury report: The Red Wings are without Datsyuk (lower body), Alfredsson (back spasms), Franzen (concussion) and Helm (groin), as well as center Stephen Weiss (groin), defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (ribs) and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (groin). … The Rangers are missing forward Derek Dorsett (broken fibula).
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