Sat, 17 Nov 2018
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San Francisco

Avs aim to continue hot start vs. Rangers

Sports Xchange
16 Oct 2018, 13:45 GMT+10

NEW YORK -- Nathan MacKinnon made history by scoring again Saturday against the Calgary Flames. A day later, nobody on the Colorado Avalanche was looking at his latest goal when they viewed the film in practice.

Instead, the Avalanche spent their final practice before a four-game road trip trying to figure out what went wrong defensively in a 3-2 overtime loss, a game where they held a two-goal lead and were outshot 31-9 after the opening period.

MacKinnon and the Avalanche hope to correct some of those defensive issues Tuesday night when they face the New York Rangers in the opener of a four-game road trip.

MacKinnon scored his sixth goal in his fifth game 11 seconds and the Avalanche held a 2-0 lead 2:40 into the game and they did little the rest of the way and settled for a point before allowing Johnny Gaudreau to score the game-winner.

"We went out and worked on D-zone coverage today and getting quick to contact and making sure we got support around the puck," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. "I thought our intensity level was really good."

The Avalanche are off to a 3-1-1 start heading into a trip that will take them through New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia in the next seven days.

MacKinnon has six goals during his season-opening five-game goal scoring streak and it took him 19 games to score his sixth goal. He tied the franchise record set by Mats Sundin, who scored a goal in each of his first five games for the 1992-93 Quebec Nordiques.

"I think what happened in the last two periods, we stopped playing offensive hockey," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "We stopped playing aggressive hockey, which is the way we got to play."

The Rangers are off to their second straight 1-4 start after taking a 2-1 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

Mika Zibanejad scored the lone goal for the Rangers, who matched a season-low 24 shots on goal. The Rangers held their own against Connor McDavid's line, but gave up the game-winner to McDavid during a power play 6:23 into the third.

The Rangers fell to 1-4 after rallying late to get a 3-2 overtime win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. They allowed 43 shots, including many on odd-man rushes.

New York allowed fewer odd-man rushes Saturday, but first-year coach David Quinn thought it came at the expense of aggressiveness on offense.

"I thought it was better," Quinn said. "Obviously, we weren't giving up the odd-man rushes that we've been giving up in the first three or four games. I thought we were more responsible in that -- we were smart and made good decisions in that regard -- but I thought in turn, we lost a little bit of our aggressive puck pursuit in the offensive zone. I think we need to do a better job of finding that balance of being aggressive and pressuring the puck without making bad decisions."

The Rangers took three penalties in the third period and are hoping to correct that area, regardless of who is in the lineup. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk returned from being a healthy scratch and Quinn has made other moves through the lineup so far, such as moving Pavel Buchnevich to left wing and getting rookie Brett Howden more ice time.

"It's unfortunate," Zibanejad said. "I thought we did some good things out there. We came out really well in the first 10 minutes and kind of slowed down a little bit after that. (We were) maybe a little bit too passive. I thought we had plenty of chances to put this one away. We just have to work on that."

Semyon Varlamov is expected to start for the Avalanche. He is 3-0-1 with a 1.75 goals-against average so far and last season turned in a 37-save performance in a 4-2 win at Madison Square Garden.

Henrik Lundqvist, who has a 2.03 goals-against average, is expected to start for the Rangers.

Last season, Colorado swept the season series for the first time since the 2010-11 season. MacKinnon had a goal and two assists in Colorado's two wins over the Rangers.

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