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Rangers go for season sweep of Red Wings

by Tal Pinchevsky /

RED WINGS (29-21-13) at RANGERS (34-26-4)


Last 10: Detroit 6-2-2; New York 6-3-1

Season series: The New York Rangers won the first two games against the Detroit Red Wings, 3-2 in overtime at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 26 and 1-0 at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 16.

Big story: The teams are in the thick of the Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Playoff hunt; the Rangers are third in the Metropolitan Division and the Red Wings are clinging to the final wild-card spot.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: Despite playing without forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit is 3-1-1 since the NHL season resumed following the 2014 Sochi Olympics. That run was punctuated Friday when the Red Wings scored a season-high in a 7-4 win against the New Jersey Devils at Joe Louis Arena.

That game was a showcase for the new line of Gustav Nyquist, Johan Franzen and David Legwand, who was acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline from the Nashville Predators. The trio showed remarkable chemistry against New Jersey, combining for four goals and 11 points. The hope now is that this top line can fill the offensive vacuum left by the losses of Datsyuk and Zetterberg, neither of whom is close to returning.

"They're world-class players," said Legwand, who spent 14 seasons in Nashville and was the franchise's first draft pick. "Obviously, Gus is speed and skill and Mule [Franzen] is a big body that can skate. He's deadly from the top of the circles in, and he's a big body that loves to go to the net."

Goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who played in the win against the Devils, reportedly won't be available because the groin problem that's troubled him all season flared up after the game. reports Jimmy Howard will start with minor-league call-up Petr Mrazek as backup.

Rangers: Two days after New York acquired Martin St. Louis in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Rangers welcomed back forward Mats Zuccarello for their road game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. Zuccarello fractured his hand competing for Norway at the Olympics and was the Rangers' leading scorer before getting injured.

Zuccarello played on New York's third line with Derick Brassard and Benoit Pouliot and saw time on the second power-play unit. He played more than 18 minutes and finished with an assist and three shots in a 4-2 victory.

"He didn't miss a beat," coach Alain Vigneault said. "He was real solid."

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 22 shots in Carolina, will make his fifth consecutive start. He is one win shy of 300 for his career and two short of Mike Richter's franchise record.

Who's hot: Franzen has six goals and 11 points in five games, and fellow Swede Nyquist has eight points in that span. Forward Todd Bertuzzi has two goals and four points in his past four games. … Rangers center Derek Stepan has seven points over a five-game point streak since returning from Sochi. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh has a goal in three straight games.

Injury report: In addition to Datsyuk (knee) and Zetterberg (back), Detroit is missing forwards Stephen Weiss (hernia), Darren Helm (head) and Daniel Cleary (knee). … The Rangers report no injuries.

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