Red Wings 3, Rangers 1

Chris Osgood has 395 NHL wins, three Stanley Cup rings, and now

a regular seat on the Detroit Red Wings bench.

Say hello to rookie Jimmy Howard, who is quickly becoming the

No. 1 goalie for the defending Western Conference champions.

Howard made 28 saves – including a penalty-shot stop and another

denial on a breakaway – and kept the New York Rangers at bay long

enough to give the Red Wings a 3-1 victory Sunday night.

“Howie was good,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He

mentally battled and he hung in and he is going to start next game

against St. Louis.”

Those assignments over the 37-year-old Osgood are no longer

surprising. Howard has started five of Detroit’s past seven games

and has earned three wins. He is 8-5-1 this season with a 2.55

goals-against average.

Keeping scoring down is even more important than usual for

Detroit, which has struggled to find offense while missing injured

players Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Jason Williams, Niklas

Kronwall and Andreas Lilja.

Dan Cleary snapped a 1-1 tie with 2:03 left to give the Red

Wings three of a possible four points in weekend games at New

Jersey and New York. The Red Wings shook off an early 1-0 deficit

and won this matchup between Original Six teams.

“When you have a lot of guys out, you have to focus on playing

well defensively,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “You can’t open

yourself up defensively because goals are so hard to get in this

league now.

“We did an excellent job in front of Howie. He made the saves

when we needed, but I thought we played really well defensively in

front of him, too.”

After Marian Gaborik failed to control the puck and get off a

shot in the Detroit end, Lidstrom started a rush the other way.

Henrik Zetterberg sent a pass to Cleary, who banked in a shot from

the goal line off the skate of goalie Henrik Lundqvist for his

seventh.

“I knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t really see it in front

of me,” Lundqvist said. “I was expecting a shot earlier, and then

I just went far down and I kind of got stuck there. It is a tough

one to let in that late.”

Detroit, which rallied from two goals down in front of Osgood

before losing in a shootout on Saturday, also got goals from Pavel

Datsyuk and Kris Draper, into an empty net. The Red Wings have won

three of five (3-1-1).

“It’s huge to take three out of four points here,” Howard

said.

Brian Boyle scored and Lundqvist made 28 saves for New York,

which failed to build on a 2-1 win at Buffalo on Saturday and lost

for the fourth time in five games.

The Red Wings tied it 1-1 four seconds after their second power

play expired. Tomas Holmstrom set up shop in his usual spot in

front and distracted Lundqvist as Zetterberg flipped a puck on net

from the left circle. Lundqvist stopped the shot, but the rebound

bounced to Datsyuk, who jammed in his seventh goal with 8:01 left

in the second.

Datsyuk had gone seven games without a goal. Detroit generated

only 12 goals in that stretch, including three games in which the

Red Wings were either shut out or scored once.

The Rangers took the lead at 15:56 of the first on Boyle’s

third, despite being outshot 14-6 in the frame. New York, too, has

been searching for offense. The Rangers netted only 10 goals in

their previous five games, following a seven-goal outburst against

Columbus on Nov. 23.

New York couldn’t take advantage of breakaways by Ryan Callahan

and Christopher Higgins. Callahan’s rush was disrupted by a hook to

the midsection by Jonathan Ericsson 1:37 into the second period

that produced a penalty shot. On the attempt, Callahan raced in and

cut to his right, but Howard beat him to the post with his pad.

“It was desperation more than anything,” Howard said. “I just

threw a leg over there and I was able to stop it. He did a great

move.”

Higgins was sent in alone by rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto

with 6:52 left in the second, but Howard kept the game tied.

The game featured physical play on both sides.

Sean Avery absorbed a punch from Zetterberg near the Detroit

bench in the second period as he ratcheted up his agitation

techniques. New York’s Artem Anisimov was flattened by defenseman

Brad Stuart in front of the penalty box as he skated with his head

down. Stuart caught him with a high, hard hit to the chest that

sent Anisimov sprawling.

The Rangers enjoyed three power plays in the third, but failed

on all. Avery had the best chance to score, but the puck bounced

off his stick during the second advantage as he stood in front of

an open right side.

“One of them we were all over the place,” Babcock said. “That

was goaltending, that wasn’t penalty-killing. It was a

disaster.

“Goaltending is your best penalty-killer. Sometimes that masks

the mistakes you made.”

NOTES: Red Wings D Brian Rafalski returned to the lineup after

missing two games because of a back injury. … Detroit is 11-1

against the Rangers since Feb. 14, 1999. … Gaborik failed to

record a point for only the fourth time in 27 games this

season.