Rangers vs. Avalanche Preview
DENVER, CO - The Colorado Avalanche had lost four of six at the Pepsi Center prior to their current three-game homestand, which has begun with two come-from-behind wins.
Completing a sweep won't be easy.
The New York Rangers have one of the league's best road records, a mark they'll look to improve Friday night in Colorado while avenging a loss to the Avalanche last month at Madison Square Garden.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Avalanche –125 money line favorites for Friday's game against the Rangers. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 67% of more than 140 bets for this game have been placed on the Avalanche -125.
Colorado (10-7-1) hasn't won more than two in a row all season, and hadn't even put together consecutive victories at home heading into Wednesday night's game against San Jose.
It looked like that drought would remain intact, but the Avalanche rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period. Chris Stewart and Paul Stastny scored to tie it, then Kevin Porter found the back of the net in overtime to give Colorado a 4-3 win.
"We knew we were going to win once we got into overtime," said Porter, who had been chastised by coach Joe Sacco after a few key turnovers earlier in the game.
The Avalanche fell behind in the first minute Monday against St. Louis, but they bounced back to win 6-3.
Peter Budaj made 67 saves in the two victories, continuing his solid play while starter Craig Anderson's been out with a knee injury. Anderson is close to returning, but Budaj is 5-3-0 with a 2.14 goals-against average in his last eight starts.
"Sometimes, you're not supposed to win and your goalie makes a lot of saves, you kill a lot of penalties, you forecheck and you get the goal," said Stastny, who scored Wednesday for the third time in four games.
Stastny's eight goals are second on the team behind Stewart, who helped Colorado top the Rangers (10-8-1) at MSG on Oct. 18. Stewart, who has 11 goals, scored twice on the power play in the Avalanche's 3-1 victory, their eighth in 10 games in the series dating to January 2002.
New York is 6-2-0 on the road, but just 4-6-1 on home ice. The Rangers outshot visiting Boston 36-20 on Wednesday and had a 34-18 edge in hits, but lost 3-2 after another stellar effort from Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas.
"We generated a lot of chances and deserved better than we got," said winger Marian Gaborik, who matched Ryan Callahan with a team-high six shots on goal. "Thomas was good. So we just have to look at the positives."
One major plus for the Rangers is having Gaborik back after he missed 12 games with a separated left shoulder. The two-time All-Star scored Wednesday, his fourth goal in as many games since returning.
Gaborik certainly seems to enjoy playing at the Pepsi Center. That's where he's recorded two of his 11 career hat tricks - one with Minnesota in April 2006 and the other his first with the Rangers during a 3-1 win Jan. 31.
Gaborik's 19 goals against the Avalanche are his second-most against any opponent. He's scored 21 times versus Edmonton.
Perhaps facing Colorado will also spark the other winger on Gaborik's line. Alexander Frolov has scored in only one of his last 13 games, but he has six goals and seven assists in his last 15 versus Colorado - including the Rangers' lone goal in the October meeting.