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Red Wings Win Close One Against Rangers

Dec. 25, 1963 - The Red Wings gave coach Sid Abel a present of a smoking jacket and slippers before tonight’s game against the Rangers at the Detroit Olympia. “I thought they gave it to me so I could relax,” Abel said afterward, “but it wasn’t a relaxing game.” The Wings had to come from behind and then break away twice from ties before they could win and build their hold on fourth place to six points over Boston and seven over New York. Gordie Howe (pictured) scored two goals, including the decisive one midway in the final period, to lead the Red Wings to a 4-3 victory. Howe’s second goal at 9:03 of the final period snapped a 3-3 deadlock and ended the Red Wings’ two-game losing streak before 10,680 delighted fans. The two goals gave the greatest scorer in NHL history a total of 551. Claude La Forge and Floyd Smith scored the other Detroit goals, while Val Fonteyn, Rod Gilbert, and Phil Goyette connected for the Rangers, who have won only one game in their last 13 starts. Smith scored his first goal of the season with just 34 seconds gone in the third period, but Goyette tied it at 5:42 and set the stage for Howe’s winning goal. Roger Crozier, the Wings’ 21-year-old goalie, was credited with 25 saves. Coach Abel made his choice early in the day, figuring that Terry Sawchuk, with six children, had a full day at home on Christmas. Jacques Plante, the Ranger netminder, was credited with an assist on Gilbert’s goal. Plante made 25 saves in the game.


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