NEW YORK -- In one of the most riveting goaltending duels of the season, the Rangers finally found the back of the net with less than six minutes to play, knocking off the Detroit Red Wings 1-0 in Thursday night's Original Six showdown at Madison Square Garden.
With both Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard pristine through the first 54 minutes, Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello snapped a scoreless draw on a give and go with Derick Brassard with 5:58 remaining in regulation.
Lundqvist made 38 saves to record his third shutout of the season.
Before Zuccarello's pivotal marker -- his 12th of the season -- the two teams had combined for 80 shots total: Rangers 44, Red Wings 36.
Zuccarello is now tied with Brad Richards for the team lead in goals, and his game winner allowed the Blueshirts to create some separation with the Wings in the Eastern Conference standings. With Thursday's defeat, the Wings now trail the Rangers by three points.
The injury-ravaged Wings couldn't solve Lundqvist, and their power play continued to sputter. Detroit is 0-for-23 with the man advantage over the past six games.
Step it up: First-line center Derek Stepan isn't scoring goals, but he's still doing his best in trying to set up his teammates. The 23-year-old pivot made the pass of the game, a between-the-legs dish to Ryan Callahan near the end of the second period. Callahan couldn't get a clean shot off after receiving the beauty of the feed, however. Stepan has now gone 13 straight games without scoring a goal.
Food for thought: With the NHL's annual trade deadline following so soon after the 2014 Olympic break, there very well might be a rush to get out in front of the competition before the roster free begins on Feb. 7. Already we've seen some movement, with the Edmonton Oilers acquiring Kings netminder Ben Scrivens and veteran forward Matt Hendricks. Could this cause a domino effect? Toronto Maple Leafs Director of Pro Scouting Steve Kasper was in attendance at MSG Thursday night, as were scouts from Anaheim, Phoenix, Washington and Carolina.