Red Wings' goalie Jimmy Howard talks about the overtime loss to the Rangers. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
New York — They’ve done this before, whenever goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Henrik Lundqvist face each other at Madison Square Garden.
The veterans have hooked up for some epic, entertaining battles, leaving fans exasperated and opposing shooters utterly frustrated.
They did it again Friday, this time with Lundqvist and the New York Rangers pulling out a 2-1 overtime victory.
Mats Zuccarello scored at 37 seconds of overtime, all alone in front of Howard, ending what was a terrific evening of hockey.
Primarily, from both goaltenders.
“Both guys did (make big saves) when called upon, for both teams,” Howard said. “It was unfortunate I couldn’t come up with one more. I just wanted to play well for the boys. I didn’t feel like I had my A-game in the last couple games.
“They deserve better out of me.”
Howard made 30 saves, Lundqvist turned aside 40, as both staged another goaltending clinic.
“Both goalies were obviously great,” said coach Jeff Blashill, who didn’t mind the Red Wings’ overall game. “It was way more towards our identity. We played closer to the way we want to play to be successful.”
The Red Wings (10-9-4) have lost three consecutive games (0-1-2) but, Blashill they felt positive about this outcome.
“If we play like this, good things will happen for us,” said Tomas Tatar, who scored the Red Wings goal.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill discusses the OT loss to the Rangers. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Howard, an upstate New York native who has said he enjoys playing at Madison Square Garden, entered the game with a 5-3-2 career record against the Rangers, with gaudy statistics (1.69 goals-against average. .951 save percentage).
“This is a great place to play, the fans are into it, they’re usually tight games, and it makes for a fun atmosphere,” Howard said. “Everyone enjoys coming here. It’s the greatest arena in the world as far as I’m concerned.
“Being from New York, I love playing here.”
Tatar snapped a scoreless tie with his seventh goal, a one-timer on the power play, at 4:05 in the third period — only to see the Rangers answer with Chris Kreider scoring his eighth goal at 10:17.
With two seconds left on the power play, Tatar one-timed a shot from near the circle that Lundqvist never got a good look at as Justin Abdelkader screened him.
Tatar’s goal gave the Red Wings at least one power-play goal in three consecutive games, and eight of the last 10 — a far cry from last season’s severe problems on the unit.
“You just have to keep going and playing and believing in what you’re doing and eventually the puck will go in, and it’s (the power play) been good lately,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg, whose assist on Tatar’s goal gave him 918 career points, tying Pavel Datsyuk for sixth on the Red Wings’ all-time list.
The Red Wings lost defenseman Trevor Daley for the game with 7:55 left in the first period to an upper-body injury.
Daley awkwardly collided with a Rangers player near the blue line, bracing himself to prevent a bigger collision and awkwardly falling to his knees.
“It’s hard for me to say whether it was a stinger or more serious,” said Blashill, who added Daley will have an MRI Saturday morning. “I’ll know more after that. I’m hoping it was just a stinger, but we’ll see.”
The Red Wings are back at Little Caesars Arena Saturday, hosting New Jersey (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit/97.1).