DENVER - Without Rick Nash, sidelined by a sore back, the Rangers won their fourth consecutive game Friday night, and began their two-game western road trip on a positive note with a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
Trailing 1-0 in the second period at Pepsi Center, the Rangers tied the score on their first power play and went ahead in a 21-second span.
With Ben Street in the box for tripping Emerson Etem, who was filling in for Nash, Mats Zuccarello set up Derek Stepan to Reto Berra's right and his quick top-shelf wrister hit the twine so hard it bounced right back out at 12:42.
Just 21 seconds later, with Kevin Hayes in front, Oscar Lindberg fired from a sharp angle for his team-leading seventh goal and the one-goal lead.
But Chris Kreider quickly took an unnecessary penalty at 13:51, tripping Matt Duchene and giving Colorado another man-advantage. They had capitalized on their first power play in the first period, with Nathan MacKinnon curling around Dan Girardi and beating Henrik Lundqvist with a low gloveside wrister.
During the penalty kill, Lundqvist, who had 29 saves and was named first star, stopped a shot by fighting through Carl Soderberg's screen, and Stepan then knelt to block Francois Beauchemin's a point shot with a few seconds left.
In the third period, Dom Moore was pulled down by Soderberg at 3:27, but the Rangers couldn't extend their lead. Then Lundqvist made three saves on a mid-period shift, stopping Gabriel Landeskog, MacKinnon and Erik Johnson. With a little more than five minutes left, Kevin Klein cleared the puck over the glass and the Avalanche had its fifth power play. But the Rangers did not allow a shot on Lundqvist, and killed their fourth straight penalty.
Berra (31 saves) was pulled but the Avalanche couldn't solve Lundqvist, who won his seventh game.
At 6:44 of the first, Kevin Hayes was whistled for a hook on Dennis Everberg, who was hunting for a rebound, a call that Hayes protested. Just 29 seconds later, the Avalanche had a 1-0 lead on MacKinnon's sixth goal. The Rangers had killed all of their previous 20 penalties, and the Avalanche had been 0-for-5 in their 4-2 loss in Arizona on Thursday.
The best chances for the Rangers, who outshot the Avalanche 11-7, came in a flurry, just over three minutes later. Berra stopped Derick Brassard's shot, a tip of Dylan McIlrath's shot by Emerson Etem and another Brassard try.
Etem, acquired from the Ducks in exchange for Carl Hagelin last summer, played his fourth game, but his first starting on the top line with Brassard and Zuccarello.
The only change on defense for the Rangers was that rookie Dylan McIlrath dressed for the second straight game and Dan Boyle was a healthy scratch again. Vingeault, who is trying to limit the 39-year-old's minutes in back to backs and when the schedule is congested, said it was likely Boyle would dress Saturday.
The Rangers (9-2-2) are now 5-1 against Western Conference teams, and visit the Coyotes Saturday, perhaps without Nash again. "I think he had a good day today," Vigneault said. "He's going to come in for treatments and he's day to day." Asked if he still considered the injury minor, Vigneault said, "Yes, definitely."