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Struggling Rangers try to get well vs. Avs

by John Kreiser

RANGERS (24-24-7) at AVALANCE (30-17-6)

Last 10 -- New York 2-7-1; Colorado 6-4-0

Season series -- It's the only meeting of the season between the teams. The Rangers won the only game last season, whipping the Avs 6-1 at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 28 to end a seven-game losing streak to Colorado

Big story -- Speaking of losing streaks … the Rangers come to Denver for the first time since Dec. 21, 2007, having lost their last five games, including a 3-2 decision at Phoenix on Saturday. The Avs have dropped their last two, 1-0 at home to Minnesota on Thursday and 3-2 at Dallas on Friday.

Team Scope:

Rangers -- The bottom is falling out of the Rangers' season -- they've dropped to 12th in the East by winning just twice in their last 10. Marian Gaborik's goal midway through the third period on Saturday ended a scoreless streak of 202:04 on the road -- but by then, the Rangers were down 3-0 after a blitz by the Coyotes in the first period. Sean Avery scored to make it a one-goal game, but New York couldn't complete the comeback.

"We couldn't finish at first, but I thought we stayed with it," coach John Tortorella said. "We got rewarded at the end, but it's certainly not enough."

Avalanche -- Colorado missed a chance to tie Vancouver for the Northwest Division lead by losing in Dallas on Friday -- the second time in two nights that the Avs let the game get away in the third period.

It wasn't that they were horrible in either game. But Avs coach Joe Sacco termed his team's performance against Dallas as "average" -- and that's not good enough.

"I think our energy level wasn't probably where it needed to be from the start of the game," Sacco said. "We talked about having a good start. You know, we just didn't play well enough. That's the bottom line."

Who's hot -- Gaborik's goal on Saturday was his 30th of the season, the sixth time he's reached that mark and the first time a Ranger has done it since Jaromir Jagr in 2006-07. … Goalie Craig Anderson, Colorado's MVP so far this season, is 3-2-0 in his last five games but has allowed just five goals in that span.

Injury report -- The Rangers started backup goaltender Chad Johnson in Phoenix because starter Henrik Lundqvist was ill. Otherwise, New York is healthy. … The Avs activated captain Adam Foote for Friday's game. They are still without forwards Matt Hendricks (ankle), Marek Svatos (chest), Milan Hedjuk (knee) and David Jones (knee). Rookie forward Ryan Stoa injured his shoulder in Friday's game and didn't return.

Stat pack -- The Rangers haven't won in Denver since the last day of 1998, when they beat the Avs 6-3. Colorado has won the last five visits, two in overtime. Overall, the Avs are 6-3-0 against the Rangers in Denver. … The Avs are 4-0 against the Rangers in overtime games since the franchise moved from Quebec in 1995. The Rangers' only OT win in six tries against the Quebec/Colorado franchise was a 6-5 victory on Nov. 20, 1983.

Puck drop -- The Avs have overachieved this season, largely due to the performance of Anderson, who gives them a chance to win every night. They have been struggling to score -- but not as badly as the Rangers. In the eight games they've lost during the last 10 they've scored just six goals, while they rang up 14 in the two wins. They've also scored just three goals in losing their last four road games. Don't expect a lot of offense in this one.

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