Nick Holden vs his former team the Colorado Avalanche
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

A hot Colorado Avalanche team was too much to handle for Henrik Lundqvist and the devastatingly-injured New York Rangers.

  • New York Rangers 1 (24-18-5, 53 points)
  • Colorado Avalanche 3 (26-16-3, 55 points)
  • NYR Goals: Pavel Buchnevich (13)
  • COL Goals: Erik Johnson (7), Nathan MacKinnon (23), Mikko Rantanen (17)
  • NHL. Final. Boxscore
  • Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

The New York Rangers were back in action for the first time since the news of Kevin Shattenkirk‘s injury. Along with Shattenkirk, the Rangers were also without Kevin Hayes, Marc Staal and recently Michael Grabner who missed Saturday afternoon’s game with the flu.

Colorado was coming into this game on an eight-game winning streak, making this a great test for a depleted Rangers team—a test for the Blueshirts in which failed.

Despite hanging in there for most of the contest, an empty-net goal at the buzzer gave the Avalanche the 3-1 victory despite 34 saves from Henrik Lundqvist.

If there was one trend in this loss for the Rangers, it has to be the dominance Colorado had in the Rangers zone. Every time the Avalanche were applying pressure it looked like Henrik Lundqvist was having a hard time getting around screens.

This along with the Rangers inability to sustain pressure offensively was a bad mix as Colorado outshot New York 37-28. We saw some of the good that the Rangers built this week, but some of the bad play from the last month came back.

Colorado was all over the place in the Rangers zone to start this game. They outshot the Blueshirts 12-5 while spending a majority of the time in the Rangers end of the ice. All of that pressure would catch up soon enough for the Rangers and give Colorado a lead nine minutes in.

Newly recalled forward Daniel Catenacci got caught puck watching and lost his man, Erik Johnson, who would tip the Mikko Rantanen pass past Henrik Lundqvist for the 1-0 lead.

A scary moment occurred with 7:09 remaining in the first period when Brady Skjei collided with Lundqvist.

Lundqvist was just shaken up and would remain in the game.

The same issues that plagued the Rangers in the first carried over in the second period. Colorado was just too much to handle in the Rangers zone which would result in an early 2-0 lead in the second period.

But the Rangers would get one back on the power-play 10 minutes later as Pavel Buchnevich would deflect a Mats Zuccarello shot past Jonathan Bernier to bring the Blueshirts to within one.

Buchnevich continues to be on a hot streak as the goal now gives him four points in the last three games. In all three of those games he has been seeing time on the first line and his hard work seems to be paying off.

Throughout the third, the Rangers found chances but just couldn’t get the puck luck they needed to force this one into overtime.

And Lundqvist did all he could to keep the Rangers deficit at one.

Colorado would add an empty-net goal from Mikko Rantanen with one-tenth of a second remaining and extend their winning streak to nine games.

For the Rangers, they will look to rebound when they take on the Los Angeles Kings Sunday night at Staples Center.

Dominick is a graduate of Canisius College. He has covered the Rangers for the last seven seasons and the Yankees for the last four.