Ryan Callahan scored a pair of goals and Henrik Lundqvist turned in another solid performance between the pipes making 27 saves as the Rangers extended their winning streak to a season-high four straight games with a 5-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden
The Rangers had won three games in a row on five different occasions this season, but this is the first time they pushed a winning streak past three. They have now won seven of their last nine games, ten of their last 13, and are 15-5-1 in their last 21 contests dating to December 22.
In their current four-game winning streak the Rangers have totaled 18 goals, and 14 different players have notched at least one as Callahan and Anton Stralman joined that list on Tuesday night.
The Rangers jumped on a tired-looking Avalanche squad that had beaten the Devils in overtime Monday night and handed Colorado its first loss in five games. New York outshot Colorado by a whopping 20-4 margin in the first period with Callahan scoring twice to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. With three minutes remaining in the opening stanza the Rangers had limited the Avalanche to just two shots on goal in a dominating performance before giving up another two in the final few minutes.
Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov did a masterful job keeping the Blueshirts off the scoreboard for as long as he did, but Callahan finally beat him off an odd-man rush at 14:46 to put New York ahead 1-0. Carl Hagelin stole the puck at center ice and took off on a 2-on-1, passing cross ice from left to right to Callahan who beat Varlamov with a backhand shot, his first goal in six games.
Callahan made it 2-0 Rangers at 17:35, scoring from the low slot after the hard-working Brad Richards had stolen the puck by the goal line and then fed it to the wide-open captain of the Blueshirts. The goal was Callahan's 11th of the season, and marked the second time this season he scored a pair in a game.
Considering how much the Rangers dominated the opening 20 minutes of play, a two-goal lead against one of the top teams in the league this season did not seem like nearly enough. When Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog buried a power play goal 6:37 into the second period to cut the Rangers lead to 2-1 that imposing start did not seem as invincible as it once did.
However the Rangers countered less than a minute after Landeskog's goal to restore their two-goal advantage. Stralman scored his first goal of the season--and first in 60 games dating back to April 19th of last season--by wristing a shot through a Benoit Pouliot screen after a nifty Mats Zuccarello feed from right wing at 7:30.
The Rangers were not out of the woods yet, though, as consecutive penalties called against Chris Kreider and Dan Girardi late in the second period handed Colorado a 5-on-3 power play for one minute 50 seconds beginning at the 16:57 mark of the period. New York killed off both penalties with Lundqvist making simply sensational saves on a pair of Nathan MacKinnon shots and another point-blank try by Landeskog from the low slot.
Marc Staal--whose wife Lindsay had given birth earlier in the day to the couple's first child--and Ryan McDonagh starred in the penalty kill, as well, paired on defense for the entire kill, while Brian Boyle and Dominic Moore alternated as the forward on the three-man unit.
Derick Brassard, who earlier extended his point-scoring streak to four consecutive games with an assist on Stralman's goal, gave the Rangers a 4-1 lead just 1:58 into the third period when his shot/pass deflected off an Avalanche player's skate and into the cage for his tenth goal of the season. Zuccarello made a sweet behind the back pass to earn his second assist of the game, giving him a team-high 41 points on the season.
Richards scored from in front with 1:36 remaining in regulation, assisted by Callahan--who earned his third point of the night in the process--to give the Rangers a 5-1 lead. The goal was Richards' 15th of the season, and he pulled himself even with Zuccarello for the team lead with 41 points.
The Rangers will look to keep the roll going Thursday night when they host the Edmonton Oilers at The Garden in the first meeting this season between the two clubs.