The New York Rangers got a much-needed rest last week.
Now, the Atlantic Division leaders take to the ice for the first time in seven days when they host the Colorado Avalanche.
The Rangers lost 3-2 to the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 10, snapping a five-game home winning streak. Rookie phenom Petr Prucha scored both goals for New York, which played its 33rd game - most in the NHL at that point.
"At least we get some days off. We've played the most games in the NHL," said Jaromir Jagr, who was held without a point after picking up two goals and five assists in his previous two games. "Some injuries can heal over the five days, and hopefully we can bounce back against a very good team."
Jagr is tied with Simon Gagne of the Philadelphia Flyers for the league lead with 23 goals. Jagr also has a league-high 50 points.
Prucha has scored nine goals during a six-game goal scoring streak and ranks third among NHL rookies with 15 goals behind Marek Svatos of the Colorado Avalanche (17) and Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, who has 18.
"We lost, so my mood isn't good," said Prucha, who has scored two goals in three of his last five games.
The Rangers, who were coming off a 2-0-1 road trip, had not lost at home since Nov. 7, when they fell 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They play three more at Madison Square Garden before going back on the road.
The Avalanche lost their third straight on Saturday, falling 5-4 to the New York Islanders. Svatos scored twice and has four goals in his last three games.
John-Michael Liles and Alex Tanguay also scored, while captain Joe Sakic had his 10-game point streak snapped.
"We didn't come to work in the first period," defenseman Rob Blake said. "We started playing better in the second period, but the problem was we gave them all their goals."
The Avalanche are 1-3 in their last four games on the road. They have won five straight against the Rangers, and have not dropped a game in the series since Nov. 20, 2001, when they lost 5-3 in New York.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 16): Avalanche - 35 points, 4th place, 7 PB, Northwest Division. Rangers - 44 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Avalanche - Svatos, 17 goals; Tanguay, 24 assists and 36 points; Ian Laperriere, 50 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 23 goals, 27 assists and 50 points; Michal Rozsival and Darius Kasparaitis, 42 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 16): Avalanche - Power play: 19.9 percent (40 for 201), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.0 percent (148 for 176), 8th. Rangers - Power play: 16.1 percent (32 for 198), 18th (tied). Penalty killing: 87.3 percent (187 for 214), 2nd.
GOALTENDERS: Avalanche - David Aebischer (11-7-0, 1 SO, 3.51 GAA); Vitaly Kolesnik (2-2-0, 3.26). Rangers - Henrik Lundqvist
(12-5-3, 1, 2.11); Kevin Weekes (8-4-1, 0, 2.88).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Avalanche, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 20, 2003; Avalanche, 4-3. At Denver, Steve Konowalchuk scored two goals and Tanguay added a goal and an assist for the Avalanche.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Avalanche - 8-8-0 on the road; Rangers - 10-3-2 at home.
- Associated Press