DETROIT - Eleven of the last 14 games between the Rangers and Red Wings had been decided by one goal, dating to 2002, so why would Wednesday night's game have been different?
Marek Zidlicky scored on a four-on-three goal off a scramble in overtime -- after a disputed holding call on Derek Stepan with 46.2 seconds left in regulation -- to give the Red Wings a 2-1 win over the Rangers.
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After two clutch saves by Cam Talbot, Zidlicky chipped the puck off Ryan McDonagh and over Talbot at 1:09 to end an entertaining game at Joe Louis Arena.
"Lucky bounce," said Keith Yandle, who played his second game for the Rangers after being acquired from Arizona on Monday.
Stepan, who was livid in the penalty box, said of the call: "I'm not going to comment on it. I'm just going to leave it at that. We put a really good effort on the ice and we come up short. Nothing good comes from a comment. We find a way to get a point. It's frustrating. I think it's pretty clear where I stand."
But with the point, their 85th, the Rangers (39-17-7) again moved into a tie for first place with the Islanders in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers, who are 28-7-3 since Dec. 8, have two games in hand on the Isles.
It's never easy to win at Joe Louis Arena, or against the Red Wings (83 points), who are on pace to make the NHL playoffs for the 24th consecutive season. The Rangers outshot them 16-7 in the second period, but neither team scored and it was 1-1 heading to the third period.
"We missed a lot of opportunities, especially in the second period," Dan Boyle said. "We got a lot of Grade-A looks and unfortunately we couldn't find the back of the net."
Overall, the Rangers fired 40 shots on Jimmy Howard, but also missed the net 15 times.
In a playoff-type atmosphere in the first game of the five-game road trip, Talbot finished with 29 saves, and is 9-2-3 since taking over between the pipes while Henrik Lundqvist recovers from a vascular injury.
"A lot of battle and compete on the ice by both teams," coach Alain Vigneault said. "Thought we played well defensively and Cam made the saves when we had breakdowns."
The teams traded surges in the second, with different lines controlling the puck in the offensive zones on shifts, and the Rangers were quick to collapse in the slot, clogging the middle and denying shots. The best scoring opportunity for the Blueshirts came when Marc Staal hit the post from the left circle on a feed from Kevin Hayes.
In the first period, on a good shift by the fourth line with Dom Moore and Jimmy Sheppard, in his Rangers debut, Jesper Fast drew a holding penalty on Zidlicky behind the Wings' net at 15:15, and on their second power play, the Rangers tied it at 1.
Boyle's point shot deflected to Nash, who tossed the puck toward the net, where Derek Brassard was creating traffic. Dan Girardi was near the crease, and made a diving poke with his stick. The puck glanced off Kyle Quincey's stick and past Howard at 17:02. Rick Nash and Brassard earned assists.
The Red Wings had opened the scoring at 6:12. Talbot tracked Henrik Zetterberg, crossing in front, to his left, but the elite center slid the puck back to Justin Abdelkader for a gimme.
Talbot prevented a two-goal lead when he extended his right pad to the post to deny two up-close shots by Jurco at 14:05.
The Wings had collected three points in the previous two meetings with the Blueshirts this season, winning 3-2 on Dec. 6 here, and dropping a 4-3 overtime game in New York on Nov. 5. Ten of the last 13 games between the teams had been decided by a goal, dating to Dec, 21, 2002.