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Rangers-Avalanche Preview

Mats Zuccarello's continued surge helped New York avoid matching its longest losing streak of the season.

The Rangers are hoping he'll have even more opportunities after moving him to their top power-play unit.

They seek a rare road win over the struggling Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.

New York (31-16-5) had dropped two straight before Zuccarello's second goal of the game snapped a third-period tie in a 5-4 victory at Toronto on Tuesday. Rick Nash, among the league leaders with 33 goals, helped set up both and had three assists for the first time since Oct. 5, 2009.

Zuccarello started the season slowly with 10 points in his first 23 games, but has recorded 21 in his last 27 contests and has three goals and five assists during a six-game point streak, one shy of a career high.

His recent play prompted coach Alain Vigneault to move him to the Rangers' top power-play line, along with defenseman Ryan McDonagh, during Wednesday's skate in Toronto. Zuccarello, who has four power-play assists while playing with the second unit, has a goal and four assists in four career meetings with Colorado.

Zuccarello will play alongside Nash, who has five goals and four assists on power plays, and Derick Brassard, who has four goals and 11 assists on the advantage. New York has three power-play goals on 12 chances over its last five games.

"The power play has been good, been getting some good looks and some goals for us, but the way Mats has been playing the past four, five games for us, he deserves to be on that top unit," Vigneault told the team's official website.

Zuccarello takes the spot of Martin St. Louis, who is tied for the team lead with five power-play goals but has none over his last 14 games. St. Louis hasn't found the back of the net in any situation in a season-worst 13 straight. He has two goals in 23 career matchups with Colorado.

This is the second stop on a four-game trip for the Rangers, who are 1-4-3 in their last eight visits to Denver. The Avalanche won 4-3 in a shootout on Nov. 13, their fifth victory in six meetings and second straight in the tiebreaker.

Colorado (22-21-11) is in danger of a fourth straight regulation loss for the first time since March 23-28, 2013. The Avalanche continue to struggle on special teams, going 0 for 27 on the power-play over their last nine games while giving up seven power-play goals on 22 chances.

They ended a 136:16 scoreless drought with Tyson Barrie's first-period goal Sunday at Winnipeg, but were outscored 4-0 in the second period of a 5-3 defeat.

"We were very happy with the start of the game," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "It was our second game in less than 22 hours, so we were pleased with the first period. The rest of the game, the second and third, we had too many turnovers and giveaways and they scored on their power play."

Even with three-plus days' rest, the Avalanche are 1-4-2.

Vigneault said Cam Talbot will make his fifth straight start in net for Henrik Lundqvist, who remains out with what he called a "blood vessel injury." Talbot made 30 saves versus Toronto and owns a 3.01 goals-against average over his last four starts.

Talbot has never faced the Avalanche but he has posted a 3.17 GAA in eight road games compared to a 1.37 mark in seven home contests.

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