Frans Nielsen's shootout goal lifts Wings over Rangers

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
The Detroit Red Wings surround goaltender Jimmy Howard after their shootout win over the New York Rangers.

Detroit — This time the Red Wings stayed with it, and didn’t falter.

And, for the first time in a while, they were rewarded.

The Red Wings ended a three-game losing streak Friday by defeating the New York Rangers in a shootout, 3-2.

Frans Nielsen scored the lone shootout goal for either team while Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard — who stopped Brady Skjei on a penalty shot in overtime — stopped all three Rangers shooters.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 3, Rangers 2, shootout

It was enough to give the Red Wings (14-16-7) their fourth win in the last 17 games.

“What I liked the most was we had an early goal scored against us in the third (period), we’re down 2-1, and we didn’t give up,” Dylan Larkin said. “We didn’t deflate. We stuck to our game plan and Hank (Zetterberg) tied it up and Howie was great the rest of the way.”

Nielsen is now 47-for-94 (50 percent) for his career on shootouts.

Vinni Lettieri, playing in his first NHL game, scored his first goal, giving the Rangers (20-13-5) a 2-1 lead just 2:35 into the third period.

But Zetterberg tied it, putting his own rebound past old friend and Swedish national teammate Henrik Lundqvist, at 7:05.

“We stayed in it after we gave up the goal,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We had a couple of different pushbacks. We continued to be resilient.”

The goaltending dual between Howard and Lundqvist might not have been as dramatic as some others between them — and they’ve had plenty over the past few years — but both again supplied elite goaltending.

Howard stopped 37 shots, Lundqvist stopped 33, and both were a big reason their teams earned points.

More: Blashill: Red Wings need to get ‘mega-hungry’ at net

“Those two guys were outstanding again,” Blashill said. “Both of them were excellent. Jimmy dug in and made a penalty-shot save, he was great in the shootout. He was excellent and their guy was was excellent and it was another great goaltending performance.”

Andreas Athanasiou tied the score at 1 in the second period, ending a personal 15-game goal-scoring drought.

Dylan Larkin floated an area pass to Athanasiou near the hashmarks, Athanasiou beating two Rangers to the puck and snapping a shot past Lundqvist for his sixth goal.

“Once I saw Lark get the puck I just kind of took off,” said Athanasiou, who had one of his best games. “I knew he’d flip it. I didn’t even see him flip it. I knew it would be somewhere in front of me and it was a perfect bounce.”

Anthony Mantha was supposed to be a wing on Larkin’s line but was a late scratch because of a “nagging” injury, Blashill said.

Athanasiou stepped in and thrived using his speed, alongside the equally speedy Larkin.

“It’s fun playing with him,” Larkin said. “We have good chemistry and maybe that allows him to be more creative.”

David Desharnais opened the scoring for the Rangers.