National Hockey League
- Madison Square Garden PUCK DROP -
Colorado Avalanche
ML: COL +122
NY Rangers Rangers
ML: NYR -135
Goalie Performance
Semyon Varlamov
#1 G Semyon Varlamov
Antti Raanta
#32 G Antti Raanta
0.960 SV% 24 SV
0.889 SV% 16 SV
Scoring Leaders
Chris Wagner
#62 RW Chris Wagner Goals Assists 1 0
Matt Duchene
#9 C Matt Duchene Goals Assists 1 0
Carl Soderberg
#34 C Carl Soderberg Goals Assists 0 1
Oscar Lindberg
#24 C Oscar Lindberg Goals Assists 1 0
Derick Brassard
#16 C Derick Brassard Goals Assists 0 1
Rick Nash
#61 LW Rick Nash Goals Assists 0 1

NEW YORK -- Colorado center Matt Duchene summarized the first period between the Avalanche and New York Rangers perfectly and succinctly.

"That was painful," he said.

The seven-shot first period may have been torture for everyone involved at Madison Square Garden, but it served as the foundation for the Avalanche's 2-1 victory Thursday night, the team's third win in four games.

The Avalanche went to the locker room holding a 4-3 shot advantage after a scoreless first period. Both teams were playing their third game in four nights and looked every bit like weary, worn-down clubs.

Despite the lack of aesthetic beauty, Duchene was happy with how his squad performed over the first 20 minutes.

"We played solid," said Duchene, whose 14th goal of the season late in the second period proved to be the winner. "When you're on the road, playing in a barn like this with one of the best teams in the NHL, you take a period like that and get yourself in the game, get your feet under you.

"We would have liked 15 shots? Absolutely. But it didn't go that way. We were happy no blood was spilled in the first."

Avalanche center Chris Wagner scored with 6:39 remaining in the second period, and Duchene tallied his 13th goal in 15 games 4:16 later.

Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov barely broke a sweat, although he made 13 of his 24 saves during the second period.

The Avalanche (11-14-1) have been a sloppy defensive team during most coach Patrick Roy's two-plus seasons, relying mostly on great goaltending and a high-scoring offense for success. The fact that the Avalanche have won back-to-back road games 2-1 -- the first time that happened under Roy -- had both coach and players feeling good about a pair of gutsy victories.

"These are games you have to learn how to win, especially on the road," Avalanche left winger Gabriel Landeskog said. "It doesn't have to be pretty, and that's something we can keep doing."

Roy said, "Early in the season, we were finding ways to lose those games. Now we're finding ways to win those games."

The Rangers (17-7-3), meanwhile, have lost of five of six after spending most of the season atop the overall standings. They were without two key players -- center Derek Stepan and defenseman Kevin Klein -- but looked lethargic one night after an emotional 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders in Brooklyn.

Goaltender Antti Raanta stopped 16 of 18 shots and center Oscar Lindberg scored his 10th of the season with 49.5 seconds remaining to give the Rangers a hope, but it wasn't enough against one of the league's worst teams.

"Give credit to Colorado," New York coach Alain Vigneault said. "They came in here and played a real structured game that made it challenging to get through the neutral zone."

Added Rangers center Derick Brassard: "Obviously, we are facing some adversity right now and we are just going to have to battle through it. In the last few years, even though we had success, we faced some struggles, like any team in the league. But we have a good group here."

The Avalanche still have a ways to go to climb into a playoff spot in the Western Conference. They play a home-and-home series with the Minnesota Wild starting Thursday, then have three road games looming against Central Division foes after one home game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

If the Avalanche can continue to preserve third-period leads, maybe they can get themselves in position for a second-half playoff push.

"We know we can win the 6-5 and 5-3 games with our confidence where it is," Duchene said. "It's those one-goal games late in the season, though. There were five or six games this year where we were tied or up going into the third period that we lost, which is insane.

"We're just a bit more poised and less panicked when those times come and they start pressing."

NOTES: Avalanche LW Alex Tanguay was back in the lineup after missing 11 games with a sprained right knee. The injury occurred when the teams met on Nov. 6 in Denver. ... Avalanche D Brad Stuart (back), C Ben Street (chest) and C Jesse Winchester (head) were unavailable. All three are out indefinitely. ... Avalanche D Erik Johnson left the game briefly after the catching the skate of Rangers LW Rick Nash in the mouth. ... Rangers D Kevin Klein (pulled muscle) and C Derek Stepan (ribs) are out at least two weeks and a month, respectively. ... Rangers RW Emerson Etem was a healthy scratch.
Top Game Performances
Colorado   NY Rangers
Matt Duchene 1 Points Oscar Lindberg 1
Matt Duchene 1 Goals Oscar Lindberg 1
Tyson Barrie 1 Assists Derick Brassard 1
N/A Power Play Goals N/A
N/A Short Handed Goals N/A
Semyon Varlamov .960 Save Percentage Antti Raanta .889
Semyon Varlamov 24 Saves Antti Raanta 16
Team Stats Summary
Team Shots Goals Power Play Penalty Kill Penalty Mins Face Offs Won
Colorado 18 2 0-0 1-1 7 29
NY Rangers 25 1 0-1 0-0 5 20
Upcoming Games
  • NY Rangers will play their next game at home against Ottawa. The Rangers have a W/L % of .722 after a win and .444 after a loss.
  • Colorado will play their next game on the road against Minnesota. The Avalanche have a W/L % of .300 after a win and .500 after a loss.