After struggling to score goals throughout the first half of the season, the New York Rangers have suddenly generated their offense.
The Rangers (31-23-3) turned back the Colorado Avalanche 5-1 Tuesday at Madison Square Garden for their fourth straight win. New York has scored 18 goals during that span, the most over a four-game stretch this season for the Rangers.
Of the 18 goals, 14 have come from various Rangers, including two on Tuesday from right wing Ryan Callahan, who provided his team with a 2-0 first-period lead.
New York claimed its seventh win in the last 10 games and has not lost since Jan. 23.
Colorado's four-game win streak ended with the loss. Left wing Gabriel Landeskog scored for the Avalanche (36-15-5), the best road team in the NHL with a .692 winning percentage.
Rangers' goalie Henrik Lundqvist has held opponents to two or fewer goals in nine of his last 10 games (8-2). Lundqvist stopped 27 shots against Colorado and owns a 1.50 goals against average and a .950 save percentage in the four-game win streak.
"Late December was a time I technically came back," Lundqvist said. "My confidence started building and we started winning as a team. It's a combination of technically and mentally. It's a good feeling when you're doing the right things and it's paying off."
Goalie Semyon Varlamov registered 37 saves for the Avalanche.
Center Derick Brassard recorded his 10th goal of the season and center Brad Richards scored his 15th in the third period for the Rangers.
After Colorado cut the Ranger lead to 2-1 at 6:37 of the second period, New York got the lead back to two goals when defenseman Anton Stralman floated a wrist shot over the right shoulder of Varlamov at 7:30 of the second. Left wing Mats Zuccarello and Brassard had the assists.
The Avalanche scored their lone goal after center Paul Stastny won the faceoff on the power play. He sent the puck back to 18-year-old rookie center Nathan MacKinnon, who found Landeskog open in the right slot. Landeskog's snap shot was his 17th goal of the campaign.
MacKinnon leads all rookies with 42 points.
The Avalanche could not take advantage of a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:50 late in the second period. Lundqvist stopped two point-blank shots from MacKinnon and one from Landeskog on the penalty kill.
New York defensemen Ryan McDonough and Marc Staal remained on the ice for the entire penalty kill.
"You don't practice that a lot," McDonough admitted. "You just understand that you try and make then have to force plays and not get clean shots and clean lanes from up top.
"I think we did a good job of forcing them to make little plays, and I think that helps Henrik (Lundqvist). He's so good side-to-side and he is able to see the puck and move with it."
. Callahan gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the first period. The 28-year-old right wing, the subject of recent trade rumors, received a cross-zone pass from left wing Carl Hagelin and flipped a backhander for his 10th goal of the season at 14:16.
Callahan scored again at 17:35, sending a wrist shot past three Avalanche defensemen crowded in front of the net at 17:35 for his 11th goal.
"We talked about how the start of the game was the key for us," said Colorado first-year coach Patrick Roy. "But the Rangers came out flying. They got momentum from the first shift and then they kept it up until the end of the first period."
The Rangers took 14 shots in the first 10 minutes of the game and finished with 20 for the period. Colorado managed only four shots in the period.
"That's as complete of a period that I've seen in a while," Callahan said, who had a team-best six shots on goal. "We had the momentum early and we didn't seem to give it back to them."
NOTES: The Rangers have allowed two goals or fewer in 34 of 57 games this season. ... New York is 27-7-0 when holding opponents to two goals or fewer. ... New York C Brad Richards has tallied 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in the last 15 games. ... Rangers D Marc Staal's wife, Lindsay, gave birth to a girl Tuesday morning. ... Staal was back on the ice Tuesday night. ... Colorado played back-to-back games for the seventh time this season. The Avalanche defeated the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in overtime Monday. ... Avalanche G Semyon Varlamov began the night tied for second among NHL goaltenders in wins (28), and he is second in both saves (1,295) and shots faced (1,402). ... The Avalanche had at least one player earn a medal in all four Olympics in which NHL players participated. ... Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist is one shutout away from the franchise record of 49 owned by Eddie Giacomin.