Feb 4, 2014 10:00 PM by Greg Smith
NEW YORK -- Ryan Callahan scored twice and the New York Rangers defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-1 Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
Brad Richards, Derick Brassard and Anton Stralman had a goal each, and Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves for the Rangers (31-23-3), who have won four straight for the first time this season.
Gabriel Landeskog scored for Colorado (36-15-5); Semyon Varlamov stopped 37 of 42 shots.
New York outshot Colorado 20-4 and outscored it 2-0 in a dominant first period.
The Rangers, who hadn't played in four days, dictated the early pace against the Avalanche, who won 2-1 in overtime Monday against the New Jersey Devils.
Outshooting Colorado 14-2 less than nine minutes into the game, New York opened the scoring after Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson carried the puck deep into the offensive zone before falling along the half-wall. The turnover led to a 2-on-1 rush with Rangers forward Carl Hagelin carrying the puck alongside Callahan.
With Avalanche forward Matt Duchene forced to play defense, Hagelin made a cross-ice pass to the Rangers captain, sending Callahan in alone on Varlamov. Callahan beat the Russian goaltender on the backhand for his 10th of the season with 5:44 remaining in the period; he entered with three goals in his previous 28 games.
Callahan would benefit from another careless play by a Colorado defenseman later in the period. Nate Guenin's cross-ice pass in his zone was intercepted by Brad Richards, who carried the puck toward the net before finding Callahan alone in the slot. Callahan beat Varlamov to the glove side with a wrist shot that gave New York a 2-0 lead with 2:25 left.
Lundqvist made one of his finest stops of the night with 13:30 remaining in the second period while Dan Girardi served two minutes for holding. The goalie snared Nathan MacKinnon's wrist shot from the left circle with his glove. Landeskog would reply seven seconds later, taking MacKinnon's pass in the slot before beating Lundqvist for his 17th of the season at 6:37 to cut the lead to 2-1.
Any new life the Avalanche may have felt was extinguished 53 seconds later when Stralman gave New York a 3-1 lead. The defenseman's wrist shot from the point beat Varlamov clean to the blocker side, Stralman's first goal since April 19.
Lundqvist's best stretch came late in the period when Colorado had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:50 after Girardi was called for high-sticking shortly after Kreider was whistled for holding. The Swedish Olympian made two quick stops on MacKinnon from the left side before stoning Landeskog at the lip of the crease. Lundqvist then stopped Duchene in close shortly after Girardi finished serving his minor to keep the Rangers up by two.
Up 3-1 in the third period, Brassard scored at 1:58 following a blind pass from behind the Colorado net by Mats Zuccarello. Brassard partially fanned on the shot but the puck bounced off Ryan O'Reilly's skate and past Varlamov for his 10th on a play that typified Colorado's struggles.
Richards finished the scoring after taking a feed from Callahan in the slot and beating Varlamov blocker side for his 15th with 1:36 remaining.
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