Rangers shoot for fourth straight win in home test vs. Avs

8:13 AM, Feb 4, 2014   |    comments
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(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers take aim at a season-high fourth straight victory on Tuesday night as they look to best the Colorado Avalanche for the first time in four years.

The Rangers have won six of eight and nine of their last 12 games and sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 63 points. That is just one point ahead of both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers but also 17 back of the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins.

Netminder Henrik Lundqvist has been a key part of New York's current success, going 8-2-0 with a 1.50 goals against average and .951 ave percentage in his last 10 games. He has yielded two goals or fewer in nine of those contests.

Lundqvist made 38 saves in a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders last Friday, keeping his club in the game before the Rangers scored three times in the third period. Derick Brassard and Brad Richards notched goals less than three minutes apart in the frame, while Ryan McDonagh scored into an empty-net.

"He made some unreal saves and had total control and permitted us to bring it (tied) to the third," said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault of Lundqvist. "Then we played a real solid third period."

Brian Boyle also scored for the Rangers, who were coming off back-to-back wins over the New Jersey Devils and Islanders at Yankee Stadium.

Lundqvist is 1-3-1 with a 2.88 GAA in five previous meetings with the Avalanche, who have won their last three meetings with the Rangers. That includes the most recent encounter 3-1 on March 17, 2012 in New York.

The Rangers have not beaten the Avalanche since Jan. 31, 2010 in Colorado and not in New York since a 6-1 win on Feb. 28, 2009.

The Avs have won two straight and eight of their last 10 at Madison Square Garden and play the second contest of a four-game road trip tonight. Colorado began its trek out east last night with a 2-1 overtime decision versus the Devils.

On the verge of being shut out, Colorado coach Patrick Roy opted to pull goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere with 2:34 left in regulation and P.A. Parenteau responded with a game-tying goal less than a minute later before Ryan O'Reilly scored on the power play 28 seconds into the bonus frame.

"Our guys were playing hard. It was a tight game and sometimes you go with your feeling when to pull the goalie and fortunately it worked for us," Avs head coach Patrick Roy said. "I am not going to take any credit for that though. It's the players. We didn't move the puck very well on the power play all game, but we scored the right power-play goal."

O'Reilly netted his club-leading 21st goal of the season and Giguere made 27 saves in his first start since Jan. 6. He got his first victory since Dec. 6.

Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon both notched assists to stretch their current point streaks. Landeskog has two goals and six helpers over a six-game run, while MacKinnon has three goals and eight points in the past five games.

MacKinnon, the top overall pick of the 2013 draft, leads all rookies with 20 goals and 41 points.

Colorado has won four in a row and nine of its last 12 overall. The Avs sit third in the Central Division, two points behind the second-place St. Louis Blues.

The Avs were without forwards Paul Stastny (ankle) and Alex Tanguay (sprained knee), both scratched due to nagging injuries for a second straight game, but are still 6-1-0 in their last seven on the road. They will visit the Philadelphia Flyers and Islanders to close out the trip before the Olympic break.

Semyon Varlamov is likely to start tonight for the Avalanche and is 2-1-0 lifetime versus the Rangers with a 3.33 GAA.

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