Wagner, Duchene Lead Avalanche to 2-1 Win Over Rangers

The Colorado Avalanche took advantage of the New York Rangers' struggles to get just their second winning streak of the season.

Chris Wagner and Matt Duchesne scored 4:16 apart in the second period to lead the Avalanche to a 2-1 win over the Rangers on Thursday night.

"These are the games that we need to learn how to win," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 24 shots as Colorado won consecutive games for only the second time this season. Colorado won three straight between Nov. 10-14.

"He was real solid," Landeskog said of Varlamov, who entered the game with a 3.28 goals-against average and .887 save percentage. "He made some huge stops. He was real solid and the best player tonight."

The Avalanche, who played the three New York-area teams in a four-day stretch, were coming off a 2-1 win over New Jersey on Tuesday night.

Oscar Lindberg scored and Antti Raanta stopped 16 shots as the Rangers lost for the fifth time in six games (1-4-1).

"The way some guys are analyzing games right now with the stats, (you'll) probably see that other than face-offs most of the other stats are on our side," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "At the end of the game the most important stat is the two points."

Raanta's toughest stops came 4:02 into the second as he made a left pad save on Tyson Barrie's in-close attempt, and a stop on Nathan MacKinnon snap shot from the slot 1:52 into the third.

There was nothing Raanta could have done on Wagner's goal at with 6:39 left in the second that gave Colorado a 1-0 lead. Barrie began the sequence with a clearing pass from the defensive zone that Jack Skille, stationed by the red line, tapped to Wagner. The 24-year old sped into the offensive zone and ripped a shot for his third career NHL goal.

Wagner's goal came just 40 seconds after Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson was inadvertently clipped by Rick Nash's back leg skate blade as the two battled for the puck in the neutral zone. He left the ice but did return to the game.

"You never know how bad that can turn (out)," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "Lucky for us he was fine and came back pretty fast. It was good to see him back."

Duchene doubled the lead with his 14th of the season with 2:23 remaining in the period. The third overall pick in the 2009 draft snapped a shot from the right circle for his 13th goal in his last 15 games.

"You want to always give your team the chance to score the first goal," Raanta said. "It's usually pretty important. I couldn't do it and then they got a second on pretty quickly. You always try to do your thing and help the team stay in the game.

"It wasn't so good from my perspective."

Lindberg's goal with 50 seconds left cut the deficit in half. But that's as close as New York got. The Rangers' best chances were J.T. Miller's jam shot attempt in the first that Varlamov stopped, and Chris Kreider's attempt with six minutes left in the third. Kreider never got a shot off as the puck rolled off his stick blade.

"I think we need a little more traffic, get inside a little more, stuff like our only goal," New York's Dan Giradi said. "(Lindberg's) inside, a little rebound and goal. A little more of that and we would have been OK."

Outside of a fight involving Cody McLeod and Tanner Glass 7:46 into the game, the first period possessed little action. The Rangers held marginal 4-3 advantage in shots on goal at the end of the opening period.

The Rangers finished the game outshooting the Avalanche 25-18. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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