Detroit Red Wings left wing Adam Erne and Rangers center Mika...

Detroit Red Wings left wing Adam Erne and Rangers center Mika Zibanejad battle for the puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. Credit: AP/Paul Sancya

DETROIT — The stripped-down, banged-up, rebuilding Red Wings are bad. Really bad.

So for the Rangers, coming out of the NHL All-Star break with two games against the Red Wings represented an opportunity to do a few things:

First, there was the opportunity to pick up some easy points in their long-shot quest to make the playoffs.

Second, there was the matter of Henrik Lundqvist. The face of the franchise the last 15 years has seen his ice time cut dramatically in the last month, thanks to the three-goaltender rotation the Rangers have been using. Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev got most of the playing time the last few weeks and Lundqvist started one game in the previous seven.

Lundqvist started Saturday night — his first start since Jan. 11 — and made 33 saves as the Rangers beat the Red Wings, 1-0, to sweep the weekend set, drop Detroit to 12-37-4 and keep pace in the playoff race. Mika Zibanejad’s power- play goal in the first period was all the Rangers (25-21-4) needed to present Lundqvist his first win since Dec. 27 and his first shutout since he blanked Ottawa on Nov. 19, 2017.

“For me personally, I’m not gonna lie, it feels really good to come back here and play well,’’ Lundqvist said. “It’s been a pretty tough month for me. I haven’t seen a lot of action. For almost 14 years, I was used to being out there and playing, and now it’s different. You try to adjust to it, but in the end, you want to be out there and help the team. So it was a good feeling to get out there again.’’

“I thought he was awesome,’’ defenseman Marc Staal said. “I felt really good for him. He’s worked hard and it’s not easy. And he’s kind of like a pro. He was great tonight. He deserved a shutout. He hasn’t had one of those in a while, too, so I was really happy for him. It looked like he’s having fun. Honestly, he was smiling a lot.’’

Not everything was rosy for the Rangers, however. They lost All-Star left wing Chris Kreider, who left the game early in the second period after taking an inadvertent knee to the side of the head from Zibanejad, his linemate. Kreider had fallen in the offensive zone, and as Zibanejad turned to chase the puck, he had to leap over him and hit him in the head.

Kreider left the ice immediately and did not return. After the game, however, coach David Quinn said the injury was not as bad as it looked and added that the team doesn’t believe it will be a long-term thing. At least for now, he’s classified as “day-to-day’’ with an upper-body injury.

“We don’t think of anything long-term — surprising after you look at it,’’ Quinn said. “It looked tough, but he he’s already feeling a lot better.’’

Of course, when Zibanejad suffered an upper-body injury in late October, the team thought he’d be out on a day-to-day basis, too. He missed 13 games.

Lundqvist, who is tied with Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury for the most wins by an active goaltender (459), looked almost nervous in the first period. At least twice he stopped a shot right at him and turned his head to see if the puck had gotten behind him.

Fortunately for the Rangers, he had a lead to work with courtesy of Zibanejad, who jammed in the rebound of a sharp-angle shot by Kreider at 12:13 of the period. It was Zibanejad’s second power-play goal in two games and his 20th goal of the season.

After surviving the first period, Lundqvist got stronger the rest of the way.

“It’s been a tough go for him and for all three goalies, and he’s handled it incredibly well,’’ Quinn said. “But as he and I talked about, ‘you play well, you keep playing.’ And he played really well tonight.’’

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