Inconsistent Rangers take aim at struggling Red Wings

Consecutive pulsating wins over elite teams left the New York Rangers feeling good about their performance. A dismal outing against one of the league’s worst teams highlighted the inconsistent nature of the Rangers.Now the Rangers hope to get back on track Wednesday night when they host the struggling Detroit Red Wings.New York is 3-2 in its last five games following a five-game losing streak from Oct. 12-22, and those last five games highlight the up-and-down nature of the first month of the season for the club. The Rangers own wins over Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Nashville, but also own lopsided home losses to Boston and Ottawa.New York followed up a 7-4 thrashing by the Bruins on Oct. 27 by beating Tampa Bay and Nashville by a combined 6-2. The Rangers’ attempt at a season-high third straight win was a flop when Ottawa beat them 6-2 at home Monday.The Rangers took the game’s first 10 shots against the Senators and held a 1-0 lead on a goal by Kaapo Kakko but gave up the next five until Artemi Panarin scored on the power play in the second period.”It’s hard when you’re two different teams in a season” New York’s Jesper Fast said. “We’re a team that’s playing hard and physical, and helping each other. Then we’re a team that thinks hockey is an easy game. We don’t battle hard enough, and we don’t help each other. That’s not the way to play.”Backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev was stellar in the wins over Tampa Bay and Nashville but faltered Monday, allowing six goals on 30 shots. Henrik Lundqvist, who is 2-3 with a 3.58 goals-against average, is expected to start Wednesday.The Rangers were without Mika Zibanejad for a third straight game due to an upper body injury he sustained on a hit from Boston’s Patrice Bergeron. Zibanejad is tied for second on the team with 11 points and could return for Wednesday’s game, or by Thursday in Carolina.Detroit is struggling to generate any traction and its 11 regulation losses lead the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings started by winning three of their first four games but are 1-10-1 since with eight of those defeats coming by at least three goals.