DENVER - Marian Gaborik 3, Colorado Avalanche 1.
Gaborik had his 10th career hat trick, Chad Johnson made 34 saves for his first NHL win, and the Rangers ended a five-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the Avalanche on Sunday night. "It's a boost of energy for this club and myself as well to finally get a win and feel good about ourselves," Gaborik said.
The hat trick was Gaborik's first since he had five goals for Minnesota against the Rangers on Dec. 20, 2007. He joined the Rangers as a free agent over the summer after spending his first eight seasons in Minnesota.
"Any time a guy scores a hat trick, it's a good offensive night," Colorado left wing T.J. Galiardi said. "We've got to know a guy like that is going to be a threat all night and he burned us."
Gaborik's first goal gave him 500 career points and his second gave him his sixth multi-goal game of the season. He has four goals in his last two games and 33 overall, the sixth time in nine NHL campaigns that he has had 30 or more.
He completed the hat trick on a breakaway with 10:43 left in the third period.
"You could tell right from the start that he had that jump, he had that swagger," Johnson said. "He was beating guys wide, having control of the puck. The other guys look up to a guy like him to lead the way and when he's playing his best hockey, I think other guys pick it up and follow his lead.
"All it takes sometimes is one guy to kind of lead the team, pick'em up and put them on his shoulders, and Gabby was unbelievable tonight. He did that."
Johnson wasn't bad himself. Playing just his fourth career game - he was filling in for Henrik Lundqvist (stomach ailment) - Johnson just missed a shutout, giving up Cody McLeod's goal with 7:21 to play.
After the game, Lundqvist dropped the game puck into Johnson's glove and congratulated him on his first career victory.
"To jump in there like he did, he was a huge part of this win," Gaborik said about Johnson.
The suddenly reeling Avalanche have lost three straight after winning six in a row.
"We've got to get back to basics," Galiardi said. "When we play a full 60 minutes is when we win games. Teams are jumping all over us at the start of games and it's hard to get yourself out of a two-goal hole. We can't keep playing like that or the losses are going to keep coming."
Gaborik opened the scoring at 13:53 of the first period, beating Craig Anderson with a slapshot from the top of the right circle.
Some nifty passing led to Gaborik's second goal. Marc Staal shovelled a pass behind the net to Vinny Prospal, whose no-look backhand flip put the puck back just outside the crease, where Gaborik picked it up and knocked it past Anderson.
Gaborik leads the Rangers in points (65), goals (33) and assists (32).
NOTES: The Avs (0-5) and Rangers (0-7) were a combined 0-12 on the power play ... The Rangers will finish up their Western Conference swing Tuesday night against Los Angeles, their third game in four days during the trip. ... Colorado's McLeod fought the Rangers' Aaron Voros. ... The Rangers completed the ninth of their 13 back-to-backs by gaining a split. They lost 3-2 at Phoenix on Saturday night.