Rangers-Avalanche Preview

The New York Rangers are riding a seven-game point streak and have won three in a row for the second time this season.

They also feel they can play even better, and that's probably an unsettling thought for the inconsistent Colorado Avalanche, who welcome the Rangers into the Pepsi Center on Friday night.

New York (8-2-2) improved to 5-0-2 in its last seven with a 5-2 win over Washington on Tuesday. The Rangers yielded a first-period goal to Capitals star Alex Ovechkin but allowed just one in the final 44 minutes despite getting outshot 14-3 in the second period.

"We're not jumping in the air right now. We're pretty aware that we beat a good team. At the same time, we didn't play our best hockey," forward Derick Brassard said. "When you win a game, you take the points but we have to come out with better execution in Colorado."

New York has outscored its past seven opponents 23-9 and allowed two goals or fewer in each game. Henrik Lundqvist has a 1.56 goals-against average while starting in five of those contests and is expected to start this game.

"He certainly has been a big reason why we're winning games right now," coach Alain Vigneault said.

Lundqvist has suffered shootout losses in each of his last two games against the Avalanche (4-8-1) and took a 4-3 defeat in his lone meeting last season Nov. 13 at Madison Square Garden.

He might not have Rick Nash available to help because the forward hurt his back in practice Thursday. Nash has one goal in the first 12 games following a career-high 42 in 2014-15.

"We'll see how I feel (Friday) morning," he told the team's official website. "We need to go back and do more treatment, hopefully get it moving and loosened up."

Brassard, one of Nash's linemates, has three goals and four assists in his past four contests. He has just one assist in his last three meetings with Colorado, which returns home having gone 2-6-1 in its last nine games.

The Avalanche endured a 4-2 loss to Arizona on Thursday, two days after ending a four-game home losing streak with a 6-3 win against Calgary.

Matt Duchene cut his team's deficit versus the Coyotes to one with 3:46 left but that proved too late.

"It was a hard-fought game but we expect more out of ourselves. There's no doubt about it," coach Patrick Roy said. "We dominated the start of the game. We had some good chances, and their goalie made some good saves. Then we gave up that first goal. That gave them the momentum they needed."

After goaltender Semyon Varlamov started Thursday, Reto Berra is slated to make his first appearance against the Rangers.

Duchene has four of his six points in the past three games, totaling three goals and an assist. He has two goals and five assists in his last five contests against the Rangers.

New York's Kevin Hayes had two goals and two assists in the two meetings with Colorado last season. He had a goal and an assist in Tuesday's victory over Washington.

The Avalanche will start a seven-game road trip after facing the Rangers. That matches the franchise's longest since relocating to Denver after the 1994-95 season.

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