NEW YORK -- Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard insists he understands his role as the backup to Petr Mrazek better now than he did last season, but that won't stop him from pushing for as much playing time as he can get whenever he gets the chance to prove himself.
Howard got his first opportunity of the season at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. At the very least he earned another start in the near future, making 32 saves to help the Red Wings defeat the Rangers 2-1.
The Red Wings (2-2-0) have given up two goals in winning two straight games since allowing 10 goals in back-to-back road losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. The Rangers (2-2-0) lost for the first time in three home games.
"Every game is a statement," Howard said. "Every single night you've got to go out there and reprove yourself. If you don't do that, this game can chew you up and spit you out."
Video: DET@NYR: Howard's 32 saves lift Red Wings in win
Howard shook off a goal from Rangers center Mika Zibanejad 69 seconds into the game and stopped the next 31 shots, including three on clear breakaways.
Forward Drew Miller scored the game-winner 59 seconds into the third period, capitalizing on a forecheck from center Luke Glendening that led to a turnover by Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist behind the net. Glendening found Miller with an empty net in front of him.
"It's funny, too, that in a game like this the first question is about that goal, but obviously that's the difference," Lundqvist said. "It's a game we should put away before we hit 40 minutes with the amount of chances we had, but it came down to that play where, for the most part, when I do that play I find our [defenseman] on the backside. It happens. It's just tough when it's the difference."
The Rangers killed off back-to-back penalties midway through the third period, including a 5-on-3 for 1:23, but couldn't get anything from the momentum. Howard took it away by making a right-pad save on Zibanejad, who broke in free from the hash marks at 12:32.
Video: DET@NYR: Howard stones Grabner's shorthanded break
Detroit forward Thomas Vanek tied the game 1-1 with a power-play goal off a redirection from the high slot at 6:15 of the second period. It was his third goal and sixth point in four games.
Minutes earlier, Howard made saves on breakaways by forward Michael Grabner shorthanded at 1:56 and on Rick Nash at 2:57. Howard also stopped rookie left wing Jimmy Vesey on a breakaway at 16:22 of the first period.
The Red Wings followed Vanek's power-play goal by killing three consecutive penalties, including 62 seconds when they were facing a 5-on-3.
Howard also made back-to-back saves on defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Vesey in the second period to keep the game tied.
Video: DET@NYR: Lundqvist flashes the leather
Goal of the game
Vanek scored his game-tying power-play goal after banging his stick on the ice, calling for the pass from center Frans Nielsen. Nielsen got him the puck in the high slot and Vanek redirected it high into the top right corner.
Video: DET@NYR: Vanek redirects Nielsen's shot for PPG
Save of the game
Howard's best sequence came late in the second period with the score tied 1-1. He stopped McDonagh's shot from the left circle with his arm at 18:43 and reached back with his blocker and stick to steal a goal from Vesey three seconds later.
Video: DET@NYR: Howard preserves tie with three key stops
Highlight of the game
Lundqvist's turnover behind the net led to Miller's game-winning goal. Lundqvist went back to play the puck, but Glendening took it away from him and set up Miller in front for the tap in to give Detroit a 2-1 lead.
Video: DET@NYR: Miller buries a shot into a wide-open net
Unsung moment of the game
The Red Wings killed three consecutive penalties totaling 4:59 in shorthanded time, including 62 seconds at a two-man disadvantage, from 10:55 to 15:54 in the second period.
They said it
"I thought Jimmy stole the game. I thought Jimmy had one of the best performances I've seen out of any goalie at any level." -- Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill
"We did so many good things. Obviously it's not easy to win in this league and you've got to give them some credit. They were opportunistic. They scored on their power play and our power play didn't get the looks that we needed. It's just the way it went for us. I'm confident that if we play games like that we'll have success." -- Rangers center Derek Stepan
Video: DET@NYR: Howard stops Vesey's breakaway attempt
Need to know
Rangers left wing Chris Kreider extended his season-opening point streak to four games with an assist. He has tied his NHL career high for points in consecutive games. Kreider has seven points. … The Rangers outshot the Red Wings 33-18 and have outshot their opponents 136-95 in four games. Detroit has been outshot 139-97 in its four games.
Video: DET@NYR: Zibanejad's deflection opens the scoring
Red Wings: Home against the Nashville Predators on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN360, TVA Sports, FS-D, FS-TN, NHL.TV).
Rangers: At the Washington Capitals on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CSN-DC, MSG, NHL.TV).
Video: Howard's 32 saves lift Red Wings over Rangers, 2-1