Gaborik tricks Avs, Johnson gets first NHL win as Rangers beat Avalanche, 3-1

With Ranger fans abuzz of a possible Ales Kotalik trade brewing, it was easy to forget there was a game to be played.

But there was, and Chad Johnson and Marian Gaborik made the most of it, carrying the Rangers to a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Johnson got the first win of his NHL career, subbing for a flu-ridden Henrik Lundqvist for the second straight night, and Gaborik had a hat trick, the first of his New York Ranger career. Gaborik got scored in the first period to put the Rangers ahead, but he was just getting started.

Gaborik added his second goal of the game, and third in two nights to put the Rangers ahead 2-0 in the second period. In the third period, Gaborik got a fantastic outlet pass from Vinny Prospal, and buried the puck for his third of the evening, and his first hat trick as a Ranger. Ranger fans in attendance in Denver even threw their hats on the ice to honor the Rangers superstar. Vinny Prospal also picked up two assists tonight.

Rangers did a good job of protecting Johnson tonight, minimizing Colorado's quality scoring chances for most of the game, the Avs mounted an attack in the third, but the Blueshirts held them to just five in the second period.  It was a far cry from the poor effort the defense put out in Phoenix last night.

Cody McLeod finally broke through for the Avalanche, scoring with about seven minutes left in the game, but Johnson shut the door the rest of the way.

All in all a nice win for the Rangers, it was nice to see them pick up where they left off after playing 10 minutes of brilliant hockey in Phoenix the night before.  Tonight may be about as close to a sixty minute effort as we will get from this year's edition.

Congratulations to Chad Johnson on his first NHL win.

We'll have updates on the Kotalik situation as soon as we have them.

More after the jump......


January 31, 2010 - New York Rangers 3, Colorado Avalanche 1 (Game #56, Road #27)

  • • The Blueshirts defeated the Colorado Avalanche, 3-1, tonight at the Pepsi Center, marking the first Rangers win at Colorado since a 6-3 victory on Dec. 31, 1998.
  • • Marian Gaborik tallied all three Rangers goals to record his first hat trick as a Blueshirt, and the 10th hat trick of his career; it is the first hat trick by a Ranger since Chris Drury notched three goals vs. Tampa Bay on Nov. 6, 2008.
  • • With his first goal at 13:53 of the first period, Gaborik registered his 500th career NHL point; he finished the contest with six shots and a plus-three rating, and has recorded 11 points (five goals and six assists) in the last eight games.
  • • The Rangers improved their record to 25-24-7 (57 pts.) overall, including a 13-11-3 (29 pts.) mark on the road.
  • • New York held Colorado scoreless in six power play opportunities (9:56), and are now 13-for-13 in shorthanded situations in their last two games.
  • • Goaltender Chad Johnson registered his first career NHL win, stopping 34 of 35 shots, while starting in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
  • • Defenseman Marc Staal tallied a career-high two assists, and finished with a plus-two rating in a game-high 27:12 of icetime; Staal has recorded six points (one goal and five assists) in the last eight games.
  • • Rangers Alternate Captain Vinny Prospal tallied his 10th multi-point effort of the season with two assists, and registered five shots and a plus-two rating; Prospal has recorded seven points (one goal and six assists) and a plus-six rating in the last eight games.
  • Sean Avery recorded the primary assist on Gaborik's first period goal, and has now registered a point in each of the last two games (one goal and one assist); Avery also finished with a plus-one rating, and has now posted a plus or even rating in 27 of the last 38 games.
  • • Rookie forward Artem Anisimov collected one assist, and has now registered three points (two goals and one assist) in the last four games.
  • • Please note the Blueshirts do not have practice scheduled for tomorrow, Feb. 1.
  • • The Rangers will conclude their three-game Western Conference road trip on Tuesday, Feb. 2, when they will face-off against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center (10:30 p.m.), in their fourth game in three days; the game will be televised live on MSG Network.