DETROIT (AP)Filip Zadina scored the go-ahead goal midway through the second period and Ville Husso made 30 saves to help the Detroit Red Wings beat the New York Rangers 4-1 on Thursday night.
The Red Wings have surged into the playoff picture with seven wins in eight games, giving them a chance to earn a wild card and end a seven-year postseason drought.
”Different vibe,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. ”The guys want it so bad. They’ve worked so hard to put themselves in a situation like this.”
Vincent Trocheck pulled New York into a 1-all tie shortly before Zadina scored, but the Rangers didn’t make enough plays at both ends of the ice to slow down one of the NHL’s hottest teams.
”If you’re going to win in this league, everybody has to be ready to show up,” coach Gerard Gallant said. ”We didn’t show up as a group.”
Jaroslav Halak stopped 19 shots for the Rangers, whose spot in the playoffs seems secure as the Metropolitan’s third-place team with a relatively comfortable lead over the Islanders and the rest of the division.
The Rangers, though, have lost three straight games after winning seven in a row. They’ve mustered only four goals during their first three-game skid since late November – also the previous time they had lost consecutive games in regulation.
”The way the league is, you have no time to feel bad for yourself,” Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey said. ”We’ve got a game Saturday. Washington is always a tough team, a lot of skill, so we have to be ready to play.”
Coming off a 4-1 road trip that made Detroit’s playoff hopes realistic, Andrew Copp broke a scoreless tie late in the first period to fire up fans desperate for the franchise to be relevant again.
”These are such hard games to play after trips like that,” Lalonde said. ”We call it a trap game. It was really important to come out of that period up a goal.”
Trocheck quieted the crowd with his goal, but Zadina energized the arena again 1:12 later by restoring the lead in the second period.
Michael Rasmussen put the Red Wings ahead 3-1 late in the second, and Filip Hronek took advantage of a power play early in the third period for a three-goal lead.
”We didn’t play well enough or hard enough,” Gallant said. ”When you backcheck hard, good things happen. When you backcheck lazy, the puck goes in your net and that’s what happens.”
Copp had a goal and two assists against his former team. He was acquired by the Rangers from Winnipeg last season and helped them reach the Eastern Conference finals.
With 8:15 left, every skater on the ice crammed into a corner after Rasmussen checked Artemi Panarin into the boards and Adam Fox responded by hitting Rasmussen in the back.
After the scrums subsided and just after Detroit killed off a power play, another fight broke out with New York’s Alexis Lafreniere going after Jake Walman following his clean check against Trocheck.
”I want our guys to react the same way,” Lalonde said. ”There’s times you have to stand up for teammates, and yourself. You have to handle situations with a pack mentality. They turned two clean hits into altercations.”
There was a moment of silence and Little Caesars Arena was dimmed with green lights before the game, honoring the three Michigan State students killed and five students hospitalized after last week’s shootings on campus.
Rangers: Play at Washington on Saturday.
Red Wings: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
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