DETROIT — For three scoreless periods, there wasn’t much pace — or space — on the slushy ice at Joe Louis Arena in Sunday’s matinee between the Rangers and Red Wings.
Very few of the rare shots on goal were dangerous and there were limited second-chance opportunities, although goaltender Henrik Lundqvist had to be sharper than his counterpart, Red Wings rookie Jared Coreau.
But the Rangers emerged from the tight-checking, dump-and-chase battle with another road win when J.T. Miller finished a rush with Mats Zuccarello with 3:04 left in overtime to give the Rangers a 1-0 win. Miller took a pass from Zuccarello and beat a diving Coreau as Lundqvist earned his second shutout of the season.
“Just a quick transition. It’s pretty much the way a lot of people score three-on-three nowadays,” said Miller, who has scored in four of the last five games, has a point in nine of the last 10 games and has scored five game-winners this season. “If somebody misses, it’s going right back [the other way], and Zuke got behind them, so I just tried to bust up the ice. He’s a really good passer, so I just put myself in a good spot to shoot.”
Zuccarello’s passing has been a bright spot for him recently. He has scored only once in the last 16 games but has 17 assists in that span. Rookie defenseman Brady Skjei received the second assist, his 20th point of the season.
The Rangers have won two in a row since their defense fell apart last Tuesday in a 7-6 loss to the Stars.
“It felt good to have a structure in front of you,” said Lundqvist, who made 21 saves. “It wasn’t a pretty game, but it’s about finding a way to win. It was hard for both teams to create big chances. Halfway through the game, I think you understand that one mistake might be the difference, so you just have to be solid.”
After four shaky games, Lundqvist has rebounded with consecutive solid efforts, starting with Thursday night’s 5-2 win in Toronto. “Personally, it’s nice to get two games here,” he said. “Sure I’ve changed a little bit, my mindset, but it’s just the way we played — with the structure, it’s easier to be patient. Today, and the last game, I felt like we were right there to put the pressure on the shooter. Guys made some really big blocks, especially in the first.”
The Rangers blocked 17 shots overall, with Dan Girardi leading the way with five.
The last eight games between the teams have been decided by a goal. “They always make it hard on us, so to see it nothing-nothing after 60 wasn’t too surprising,” Miller said.
Given the ice conditions, even special teams sputtered. They went a combined 0-for-7, with the Rangers unable to solve the 6-6 Coreau (18 saves) four times. “It’s the way the day went,” Derek Stepan said.
“Both teams didn’t generate a lot offensively,” said coach Alain Vigneault, who called the ice “horrendous.”
“In the first, we chased the game. I thought we got a little better offensively in the second period, and a little in the third . . . but a win is a win is a win, eh?”