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Howard gets first start in favorite road venue

Rangers scored seven Monday; Lundqvist 5-0-1 in last six against Wings

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - Getting your first start of the season at Madison Square Garden is always a good thing, but especially if you're Jimmy Howard.

Wings coach Jeff Blashill announced after Wednesday's morning skate that Howard would start against the Rangers.

"I think there's multiple things that factor into it," Blashill said. "Sometimes opponents can factor into it. Sometimes the success that a goalie's had factors in it, sometimes it's the way the schedule sets up, there's tons of things. Certainly Jimmy likes playing here, has had success here. That's a factor but it's not the deciding factor."

In his career, Howard is 1-3-1 with a 1.61 goals-against average and .949 save percentage at Madison Square Garden. 

Howard has made nine career starts against the Rangers, going 4-3-2 with a 1.76 goals-against average and .949 save percentage.

The Syracuse native has always loved playing in New York.

"I think it just stems from my childhood, growing up in New York, being a huge Rangers fan, a huge Mike Richter fan, I just love playing here," Howard said.

After playing in four preseason games, Howard has been practicing hard and waiting for his opportunity.

"It's been a week and a half now, putting in a lot of great work in practice and now I'm looking forward to getting out there and showing it in a game," Howard said. 

Howard said he has been working on things with goaltending coach Jeff Salajko.

"I'm trying to be a lot more quieter in the net, not as aggressive, picking my moments, reading the play on when to be aggressive, when to hang back, so it's going to continue to be a work in progress," Howard said. "Just continue to work on and hopefully it transfers over."

There's no doubt that Howard will be tested by the Rangers, who scored seven goals Monday night in a 7-4 win over the San Jose Sharks, and who are third in the league with 14 goals in three games.

"They're fast," Howard said. "They're extremely fast up front. They got a mobile D, like to join the rush. Their transition game is really good from defense to offense, they come in waves. We're going to have to find a way to counter-attack that."

Blashill said any other lineup changes would be announced after warm-ups.

HOT RANGERS: The Rangers are 2-1 overall with both wins coming at home.

Chris Kreider leads his team with six points, tied for third among league leaders in that category.

Henrik Lundqvist will start for the Rangers. He is 5-3-2 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in 10 starts against the Wings.

However, in his last six starts against the Wings, Lundqvist is 5-0-1 with a 1.14 goals-against average, .963 save percentage and three shutouts.

Defenseman Kevin Klein will return to the New York lineup after missing the first three games with back spasms. 

The Rangers have won the last six meetings against the Wings at Madison Square Garden going back to Mar. 21, 2012.

MANTHA DOING WELL IN GR: Anthony Mantha tied a Grand Rapids Griffins record with three power-play goals in a 4-3 comeback victory against the Iowa Wild.

Mantha now has five goals in the first three games.

"He played good and that's great for us," Blashill said. "The more guys down there playing great, the better off we are. We're going to need to use more than the 13 forwards that are currently available to us. When that is, I have no idea. But you know how the year goes, between injuries and things like that, so the more guys playing good the better and I thought he played good last night."

When Mantha was sent down, Blashill told him to go down and dominate at the AHL level so he can be prepared if he does get the call.

"His job's not to dictate when the window comes, his job is to make sure he's ready," Blashill said. "That's what Gus Nyquist did. I lived it with Gus. He did a great job of putting himself in that position. He came up, scoring right away and hasn't looked back."

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