The New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings could both use a bit more frequency in finding the back of the net.
Each team's offensive issues may continue with Henrik Lundqvist and Jimmy Howard likely starting in net opposite each other.
The Rangers will try to re-establish their recent success behind Lundqvist, while Howard's expected return Thursday may give the Red Wings a lift at Madison Square Garden.
New York (24-21-3) is averaging 2.42 goals this season, while Detroit (20-16-10) isn't much better at 2.54 - both ranking in the bottom half of the league.
The Rangers struggled offensively Tuesday, falling 2-1 to Tampa Bay despite holding a 34-25 shot advantage. That came after they scored 20 goals during a 4-0-1 stretch.
"We have to find a way to score more goals," coach Alain Vigneault said.
The Red Wings certainly share that sentiment after a 1-0 loss at Anaheim on Sunday gave them a split of the first four on their five-game trip. They've been shut out three times while averaging 2.13 goals during a 5-8-3 span.
A punchless power-play unit hasn't helped, squandering all 21 of its chances in the last five games - including five against the Ducks.
"We've really competed hard in three of the first four games on the trip," coach Mike Babcock said. "The reality is we've got to find a way to score. Our power play has got to be more dangerous."
Scoring may come at a premium Thursday with the Rangers likely turning to Lundqvist, who has a 1.76 goals-against average and .944 save percentage while winning three of his last four starts. He had 23 saves Tuesday, but gave up two goals nine seconds apart early in the second period.
"Right now we're looking to get points in every game. We need it," said Lundqvist, who had 26 saves in a 2-1 overtime win in the most recent home meeting with Detroit on March 21, 2012.
Rookie backup Cam Talbot stopped 32 shots in a 3-2 overtime win at Detroit on Oct. 26.
Howard had 37 saves in that meeting after winning his first two against the Rangers, stopping 73 of 76 shots. He's expected to get the nod after he sat out Sunday with a hip injury he suffered while making 44 saves in a 3-1 win at Los Angeles a day earlier.
"More so than anything the muscle itself just felt really fatigued, felt it needed a bit of a break," Howard told the team's official website. "Better to take one night off than to go out there and cause further harm and be out 2-3 weeks."
If Howard is unable to go, Detroit will turn to rookie Petr Mrazek, who had 22 saves against the Ducks. Jonas Gustavsson has been out since last month with a groin injury.
Injuries have plagued Detroit much of the season, and the team is expected to again be without Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Daniel Alfredsson (back spasms), Johan Franzen (concussion), Darren Helm (groin), Stephen Weiss (groin) and Jonathan Ericsson (ribs).
Henrik Zetterberg leads the Red Wings with 36 points, but he hasn't mustered any in three games with a minus-4 rating. The star center has two goals and three assists in his last three visits to the Garden, beating Lundqvist for a goal in the most recent.
The Rangers are looking for Brad Richards to extend his point streak to seven games. The center has three goals and five assists during the run after his tally Tuesday.
Richards has 14 points in his last 11 against Detroit, including a goal on March 21, 2012.
The Associated Press News Service
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