'We have to win another game,' coach Mike Babcock said. 'We need points badly. We'll get a bit of a rest here and get two practice days in and compete hard.' (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Detroit — This important trip the Red Wings circled on their calendar is either done, or has one more game left on it, depending on your point of view.
They’ve gone 2-2-0 through the first four games in Dallas and a three-game stretch through California.
Now, the Red Wings resume practice Tuesday before playing the New York Rangers on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Particulars aside, right now it’s all about getting victories for the Red Wings. Home or away.
Which makes Thursday’s game, against an improving Rangers team, all the more important.
“We have to win another game,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We need points badly. We’ll get a bit of a rest here and get two practice days in and compete hard.
“We have to keep plugging and keep getting better.”
The Red Wings’ comfortable lead in the wild-card race has evaporated.
Washington and the Rangers (51 points) have passed the Red Wings (50), Philadelphia has just as many (50), and five teams are within four points.
“We’ll get our points if we stick to our game plan,” forward Patrick Eaves said.
But with every game becoming so much more important than in past years, a gut-wrenching loss such as Sunday’s 1-0 defeat in Anaheim hurts in the standings.
The Red Wings have to get offense and have to get victories.
“We fought hard and played good enough to win,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “But we couldn’t find a way.”
The Red Wings assigned defenseman Alexey Marchenko back to Grand Rapids.
He played in one game on the trip, a Jan. 4 victory in Dallas, and was plus-2 in the game.
Marchenko, 22, has been selected to play in the AHL All-Star Classic next month, facing a team from the Swedish Elite League.
In 33 games with the Griffins, Marchenko has 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) and leads all AHL rookies with a rookie-best plus-15 rating.
The Red Wings were off Monday, arriving early in the morning after flying the red-eye out of Anaheim, Calif.
... One bright spot against the Ducks was the play of Riley Sheahan centering a line of Tomas Tatar and Todd Bertuzzi.
They generated a few scoring chances and played physical against the Ducks.
“That line generates,” Babcock said. “Tats and Sheahan had good jump. He (Sheahan) looks good defensively, offensively. He looks like a good player. He skates.”
... Tatar has returned to Slovakia for his father’s funeral. Tatar will miss Thursday’s game in New York.