AVALANCHE (10-14-1) at RANGERS (17-6-3)
TV: SN360, ALT, MSG
NEW YORK -- Colorado Avalanche forward Alex Tanguay will return to the lineup against the New York Rangers on Thursday after missing the previous 11 games because of a sprained right knee.
Tanguay will start the game on a line with Mikhail Grigorenko and Jarome Iginla. Andreas Martinsen will be a healthy scratch.
Tanguay had two goals and four assists in 14 games before sustaining the injury on a knee-on-knee collision with Rangers forward Oscar Lindberg at 18:24 of the second period of the Rangers' 2-1 win at Pepsi Center on Nov. 6.
"I've been working hard and I'm just hoping to get back and play and help the team," Tanguay said. "I know that at the start of the season I didn't play particularly well. I was trying to turn it around and then you miss three and a half weeks. [I'm] very frustrated and I'm going to try to work as hard as possible to help the guys out and hopefully we can string a few wins together to get ourselves back in contention."
The Avalanche are coming off a 2-1 win against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday but they are 3-5-0 in their past eight games. They are last in the Central Division with 21 points, five behind the sixth-place Winnipeg Jets.
Tanguay said he looks at the game Thursday as the restart to his season.
"I felt great all summer and I had a terrible start to the season," he said. "Now I want to get playing better. I want to help this team. It's up to me to put on my work boots and go to work to help these guys out.
"We've got 57 games left. I've got time to help these guys and I'd like to be in the playoffs. Certainly we've got to string a few wins together in order to get ourselves there. I'd like to be part of the puzzle that is going to help this team get to where it wants to go."
Semyon Varlamov will start in goal instead of Reto Berra, who made 27 saves in the win at New Jersey. Varlamov has allowed 10 goals in his previous three games, including four in a 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday at Barclays Center.
"I wanted to go with [Varlamov]," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "He's our No. 1 guy and we want to give him a chance to get his game going. We know if we're going to have a chance to get back in the playoff picture he's going to have to play a major role."
The Rangers had an optional morning skate that saw three players on the ice: Forwards Emerson Etem and Tanner Glass, and goaltender Antti Raanta.
Here are the projected lineups:
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Matt Duchene
Alex Tanguay - Mikhail Grigorenko - Jarome Iginla
Blake Comeau - Carl Soderberg - John Mitchell
Cody McLeod - Chris Wagner - Jack Skille
Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson
Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie
Nate Guenin - Brandon Gormley
Injured: Brad Stuart (back), Ben Street (chest), Jesse Winchester (head)
Scratched: Andreas Martinsen, Zach Redmond
Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider - Kevin Hayes - Jesper Fast
J.T. Miller - Oscar Lindberg - Tanner Glass
Dominic Moore - Jarret Stoll - Viktor Stalberg
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Dan Boyle
Keith Yandle - Dylan McIlrath
Injured: Derek Stepan (broken ribs), Kevin Klein (strained oblique)
Scratched: Emerson Etem
Status report: Raanta will start for the Rangers after Lundqvist made 36 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Wednesday. ... Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Glass will stay in the lineup after playing Wednesday. He was recalled earlier in the day Wednesday because Etem was under the weather. "He played a real strong, physical game and his line with J.T. (Miller) and Oscar (Lindberg) spent some quality time in the Islanders end and had some good looks," Vigneault said.
Who's hot: Duchene has 12 goals and nine assists in the past 15 games. He had one goal and one assist in the first 10 games of the season.