Preview: Rangers at Avalanche
The New York Rangers have begun to make life bearable away Madison Square Garden, defeating a pair of Central Division representatives to improve their porous road record to 6-10-2. After getting shellacked in their last outing at home, the Rangers aim to pick up the pieces on Friday when they carry a 10-game point streak (7-0-3) against Western Conference foes into the opener of a three-game trek versus the reeling Colorado Avalanche.
Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk set up his second goal in as many games since returning from a three-week absence due to a shoulder injury in Wednesday's 7-2 setback to white-hot Pittsburgh. Shattenkirk, who was selected by Colorado with the 14th overall pick of the 2007 NHL Draft, burned his former team with two assists as well as a goal in the shootout of a 3-2 win on Oct. 16. Colorado's troubles from 2018 carried into 2019 as it tumbled into the new year with its six straight loss (0-4-2) and 10th in 12 outings (2-7-3) following Wednesday's 5-4 setback to San Jose. "We got to find a way to stop the bleeding here. ... Instead of stopping the bleeding at one or two goals, we let them get five (Wednesday). That's tough," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, MSG2 (New York), Altitude (Colorado)
ABOUT THE RANGERS (17-15-7): Like Shattenkirk, Mats Zuccarello also had a pair of assists and converted in the shootout in the previous encounter with the Avalanche. Chris Kreider netted one of his team-best 20 goals this season in that contest and recorded nine points (six goals, three assists) in seven games before being held off the scoresheet versus the Penguins. Mika Zibanejad has failed to dent the scoresheet in five of his last six outings, although the exception saw him set up four goals in New York's 4-3 win at Nashville on Saturday to boost his club-best totals in assists (23) and points (34).
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (19-14-8): Landeskog's bid to join linemates Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon in the NHL All-Star Game begins in earnest as the 26-year-old Swede takes part in the "Last Men In" ballot in which fans can submit their votes among 31 candidates. Landeskog netted one of his team co-leading 24 goals versus the Rangers in addition to notching an assist in that encounter. MacKinnon also has 24 goals -- including one against the Rangers -- and carries a five-game point streak (three goals, two assists) into Friday's tilt while Tyson Jost added his second career two-goal performance versus the Sharks to account for his first marker since Nov. 27.
1. Colorado sports an impressive 11-5-2 mark versus Eastern Conference representatives.
2. The Rangers have earned at least one point in eight of their last 11 games (6-3-2) against the Avalanche.
3. Colorado G Philipp Grubauer has received an early hook after yielding four goals in two of his last three starts.
PREDICTION: Avalanche 4, Rangers 2