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Rangers look sharp in 5-1 win over Red Wings

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Rookie Derek Stepan is doing his best to convince the New York Rangers that he's ready to play in the NHL.

Stepan scored a goal Wednesday night and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 35 shots as the Rangers turned in their best effort of the preseason with a solid 5-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden.

Stepan, the Rangers' second-round pick in 2009, is trying to make the team after signing with the team after two seasons at the University of Wisconsin.

"It's a tough situation; you don't want to overthink stuff," he said. "You don't want to get yourself over-involved and your mind confused. You just want to play and whatever happens, happens."

He was relieved to get his first goal in his third preseason appearance. He has 3 points in the three games.

“It was like getting a monkey off my back because I was kind of gripping the stick a little tight, so it felt good to finally tap one in,” Stepan said. “I’m just trying to keep it simple, but it’s very hard. Each night I go to bed, doing numbers in my head, doing lines in my head. It’s non-stop (thinking about making the team).”

Lundqvist was impressed with what he saw from the 20-year-old.

“He plays very mature and very solid,” Lundqvist said. “Sometimes when you are young and just coming into the league, you don’t think, you just play. You focus on trying to do everything right. It seems like that is what he is doing. He’s had a very good camp."

Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist in New York's three-goal first period. Stepan and Michael Del Zotto scored in the third for New York, which has won three of its four games.

Gaborik scored his third goal of the season when he ripped a power-play wrister past Jimmy Howard 60 seconds into the game, then capped New York's three-goal first period by setting up rookie defenseman Michael Sauer's wide-open wrist shot from the slot past Jimmy Howard at 19:01.

Detroit, which beat the Rangers 5-3 at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday, outshot New York 36-26, but Lundqvist allowed only a second-period power-play goal by Brian Rafalski -- one of the few regulars to make the trip. While the Rangers dressed many of their regulars, the Red Wings left most of their top guns back in Detroit, including Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

Stepan and second-year defenseman Del Zotto beat Howard in the third period to give Lundqvist a rare cushion -- the Rangers scored one goal or less in nearly 30 percent of their games last season.

"It was a great team game," Lundqvist said. "For me personally it felt pretty good to face a lot of shots.  We did a good job  to force them into a lot of shots.  As a goalie it is a lot easier."

Rangers coach John Tortorella was pleased with the play of young defensemen Sauer, Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy as New York heads into a home-and-home series with Ottawa to conclude the preseason.

"Gilly has tried to be more aggressive," Tortorella said. "Tthat is a point of contention for us as far as defending harder. He is trying, he is trying.  Michael, I thought, made some good plays tonight … stayed within himself.  Not always looking for the long pass but made some good stretch plays. And then  Sauer, again, I don't want to get ahead of myself, I want to watch tape but I know Mike played within himself which he has done all camp and that is why he is still here. 

"We just keep on banging away, practice tomorrow and see where it all falls.  We play a good team against Ottawa the next couple of nights and then make some decisions."


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