On the Wings Gameday

Mark Messier may always be viewed as the New York Rangers’ greatest captain. However, Jaromir Jagr is doing his best to aptly fill the leadership void.

Jagr and the Rangers begin a four-game road trip as they visit the Western Conference-leading Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

New York celebrated Messier’s career Thursday by raising his number 11 to the Madison Square Garden rafters, and Jagr scored 14 seconds into overtime to lift the Rangers to a 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers to cap a memorable evening.

The Rangers and Oilers had to sit on their benches throughout the 1-hour, 15-minute number retirement ceremony in honor of Messier before the game.

“It wasn’t easy, but for the fans it was great,” said Jagr, who scored his 28th goal of the season and leads the NHL with 67 points. “It was very special for me. I had so much time to look around and put the puck where I wanted to.”

The win allowed the Rangers to cap their five-game homestand with three straight wins.

“We didn’t start very well,” said Jagr, who has seven goals and 24 points in 23 lifetime games against the Red Wings. “Since then we have been playing pretty good.”

To get their fourth in a row, the Rangers will have to play disciplined hockey and avoid penalties. Detroit has successfully converted an NHL-best 24.8 percent of its power play opportunities.

The Red Wings avoided their third straight loss Thursday with a 6-3 home victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk scored twice for Detroit, and center Steve Yzerman again moved up an NHL’s all-time scoring list

Yzerman notched his 1,050th assist to move past Hall of Famer Gordie Howe for seventh place on the NHL’s all-time list, and Howe was one of the first well-wishers upon Yzerman’s return to the locker room.

“One of the advantages, one of the special things, about playing in Detroit or Montreal is guys like Gordie Howe walk in the room,” said Yzerman, who’s playing in his 23rd season. “I didn’t know he was here tonight, it was kind of a coincidence to get that assist on a night that he’s here.”

STANDINGS (through Jan. 12): Rangers – 57 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Atlantic Division. Red Wings – 61 points, 1st place, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Rangers – Jagr, 28 goals, 39 assists and 67 points; Michal Rozsival and Darius Kasparaitis, 52 PIM. Red Wings – Zetterberg, 22 goals; Datsyuk, 33 assists and 50 points; Chris Chelios, 68 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 12): Rangers – Power play: 16.2 percent (41 for 253), 21st in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.3 percent (238 for 279), 5th. Red Wings – Power play: 24.8 percent (63 for 254), 1st. Penalty killing: 84.1 percent (212 for 252), 9th.

GOALTENDERS: Rangers – Henrik Lundqvist (17-5-5, 2 SO, 2.13 GAA); Kevin Weekes (8-7-2, 0, 3.05). Red Wings – Manny Legace (16-5-0, 3, 2.11); Chris Osgood (12-5-3, 0, 3.01).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 25, 2003; Rangers, 3-1. At New York, Mathieu Schneider snapped a 1-1 tie with a second-period power play goal, and Mike Dunham made 23 saves for the Rangers.

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