The New York Rangers are riding a three-week surge, winning eight of their past 10 games and feeling good despite a 1-0 home setback to the Nashville Predators on Sunday.
New York averaged 3.3 goals a game in the 10-game stretch, even with the shutout loss. But three goals do not figure to be enough when the Rangers face the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night in Denver.
Colorado has been streaking too, going 12-2-1 since Nov. 11 and piling up the wins thanks to a sizzling offense. The Avalanche are averaging 5.3 goals a game during the streak, in which they scored at least seven goals in a game six times. Only once in the last 15 games have they been held under three goals.
Colorado can win low-scoring games, too. The Avalanche beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Sunday night despite not having two of their top forwards, Gabriel Landeskog (lower body) and Nazem Kadri (lower body).
Landeskog is expected to miss a couple of weeks, but Kadri, who leads the team with 34 points (11 goals), could be back Tuesday after missing the previous two games.
Andre Burakovsky picked up the slack against the Panthers, scoring all three goals for his first career hat trick. Burakovsky is tied with Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar for the team lead in goals with 12.
He scored the go-ahead goal at 11:43 of the third period, his second goal in the final 20 minutes, and the Avalanche held on for the win.
“It’s important because the message we’ll send to the coaching staff will be that it was a great checking game and we’ve got to be able to win games 1-0, 2-1, 3-2,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “We’re not going to put up seven every night.”
Tuesday will be a rematch of Colorado’s 7-3 win in New York on Wednesday. Tempers flared in that one after the Rangers’ Jacob Trouba delivered a hard hit to Nathan MacKinnon, who went to the locker room but returned later.
Landeskog dropped the gloves with Trouba.
It isn’t the only time this season Trouba has delivered a hard check. His hit on Chicago’s Jujhar Khaira the night before the Avalanche game sent the Blackhawks forward to the hospital and into concussion protocol.
Trouba also had an open-ice hit on Nashville’s Luke Kunin on Sunday night.
Trouba defended his physical play, saying he isn’t trying to injure opposing players.
“You take a hit when it comes. It’s just part of the game,” Trouba said. “I wouldn’t say I’m thinking about hitting people before the game starts. It just presented itself three games out of the last four. When the physicality is there, it’s there.”
Landeskog won’t be available for a rematch, but the Avalanche have shown they can be physical, too. After Jacob MacDonald was knocked out of Sunday’s game with a hard hit, the team delivered some hard checks on the Panthers.
“We ramped up our game, we were playing more physical,” Burakovsky said. “You see guys who usually don’t make hits hit a few big ones. Everyone’s sticking up for each other.”
–Field Level Media