Rangers-Red Wings Preview

The Associated Press

The Detroit Red Wings have been strugging to find the back of the net over the last week. For the New York Rangers, it's been a season-long trend.

The Red Wings will try to snap a three-game skid Saturday night when they host the Rangers, whose offense has been lifeless during a season-opening nine-game trip that concludes with this matchup.

Thursday's 2-1 loss at Philadelphia marked the fourth time this season that the Rangers (2-6-0) had one goal or less. New York is also one of five teams to be shut out twice - despite playing a league-low eight games.

Brad Richards tied the game at 1 late in the first, but the Rangers failed to score again on 22 shots over the second and third periods.

"We didn't give up much, killed some good penalties, but we have to score some goals," Richards told the team's official website.

Richards has seven goals and 21 points in 21 regular-season games against the Red Wings. He has five of New York's 12 goals this season, while Ryan Callahan (3) is the only other player with more than one.

The Rangers have an NHL-worst minus-19 goal differential.

Lack of offense aside, holding an opponent to two goals was a step in the right direction after they allowed four or more in five of their previous seven contests, including a three-game stretch conceding a total of 20.

"We did a lot of the things that we've talked about," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Offensively, our execution might have been a little bit off on some occasions there, but it was a better effort in my estimation."

Goaltender Cam Talbot, making his NHL debut, had 27 saves in the loss.

"He gave us a chance to win," Vigneault said. "He made the saves he had to make. That's what we want and what we need out of a goaltender's performance, and hopefully next time we'll be able to give him more goals."

No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist missed Thursday's game with an undisclosed injury.

The Red Wings (6-4-1), who have a combined three goals during their current slide, are shuffling lines after Wednesday's 6-1 home loss to Ottawa. Coach Mike Babcock has decided to split up leading scorers Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

"I told them and you guys I wasn't going to split them up and 11 games in I'm splitting them up," Babcock told the team's official website. "It wasn't my plan and not necessarily what I wanted to do, but we need to."

Zetterberg hasn't scored in his last four games after getting six goals in his first seven, but the move is being made more to involve others in the scoring than to revive Datsyuk or Zetterberg. They've scored 11 of the team's 25 goals.

"You need a team going," Babcock said. "Right now we need Alfie (Daniel Alfredsson), and we need Mule (Johan Franzen) and a whole bunch of guys to score."

Alfredsson and Franzen have combined for only three goals, though Alfredsson does lead the team with eight assists.

The Red Wings are 12-1-1 in the series since their last loss to the Rangers at Joe Louis Arena on Jan. 30, 1999. In the last meeting on March 21, 2012, the Rangers won 2-1 in overtime at Madison Square Garden.

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