NEW YORK — Andreas Athanasiou scored twice as the Detroit Red Wings beat the New York Rangers 3-2 on Tuesday night.
Frans Nielsen also scored and Taro Hirose recorded an assist during his NHL debut for Detroit, which won its second straight but has already been eliminated from playoff contention.
Jimmy Howard stopped 41 shots and improved to 10-3-3 in 16 career appearances against the Rangers.
Ryan Strome and Brendan Smith scored, but the Rangers dropped their fifth consecutive game and inched closer to being knocked out of the playoff race for the second straight season. Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves.
Athanasiou scored at 4:30 of the second period to give Detroit a 2-0 advantage. Jacob De La Rose delivered a saucer pass to set up the strike. Michael Rasumussen also assisted on Athanasiou’s 27th of the season.
The Rangers have only one win over their last 11 games (1-5-5) dating to Feb. 24.
Nielsen opened up the scoring at 17:16 of the first period when he held off defenceman John Gilmour and sneaked a wrister past Lundqvist. Hirose and Brian Lashoff assisted on the play.
The Red Wings signed Hirose as a college free agent out of Michigan State, where he led the NCAA with 50 points (15 goals, 35 assists) as a junior, and became the Spartans’ highest-scoring player since 2002-03. Hirose is a finalist for the Big Ten Player of the Year Award, to be announced next week, as well as the Hobey Baker Award for the top player in college hockey.
Strome notched his 14th of the season when he converted on the power play at 14:46 of the third period. The Rangers have struggled on the man advantage, only scoring on two of the previous 33 opportunities. Kevin Shattenkirk, skating in his 600th NHL game, and Pavel Buchnevich assisted on the play.
Athanasiou added an empty-netter, his 28th of the year, in the final minute. Smith scored his third of the season with 10 seconds left.
The Red Wings have not had a 30-goal scorer since 2008-09 when four players accomplished the feat: Marian Hossa, Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyk and Henrik Zetterberg.
NOTES: The Rangers recalled Vinny Lettieri and John Gilmour from Hartford. Gilmour leads AHL defenceman with 53 points (20 goals, 33 assists). … New York’s Jesper Fast missed Tuesday’s game with a lingering upper-body injury. The alternate captain has frequently missed practice while playing through the injury. … The Rangers scratched F Connor Brickley, D Frederik Claesson and F Boo Nieves. Detroit scratched F Ryan Kuffner.
Red Wings: Visit the St. Louis Blues on Thursday in the second of a five-game trip.
Rangers: Visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
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Scott Charles, The Associated Press