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Lindberg scores game-winner as Rangers top Avalanche 2-1

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Friday, November 6, 2015, 11:38 PM

Oscar Lindberg’s seventh goal of the season is the game-winner.Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Oscar Lindberg’s seventh goal of the season is the game-winner.

DENVER – While Rick Nash rested his tight back Friday night, the rookie who has put the Rangers’ scoring load on his back continued to deliver.

Swedish left wing Oscar Lindberg scored the game-winner in a 2-1 Rangers comeback win over the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center, netting the second of two goals scored in a span of 21 seconds in the pivotal second period of the Blueshirts’ fourth straight win.

New dad center Derek Stepan ripped home a game-tying power play goal at 12:42 of the second, and then Lindberg scored his seventh of the season – tied for a team-high with Mats Zuccarello – by banking a side-angle shot from the goal line off the inside of the blocker of Avs goaltender Reto Berra (31 saves).

Lindberg, 24, is tied for the NHL lead in even-strength goals (seven) and leads all rookies.

The Rangers (9-2-2) were missing Nash (day-to-day) after the top-line left wing’s back locked up on him in Thursday morning’s practice in Denver. But young Emerson Etem was serviceable in Nash’s stead, Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves, and the penalty kill settled down to finish 4-for-5 after allowing a first-period Nathan MacKinnon power play goal.

Alain Vigneault’s club carries a 6-0-1 record in its last seven games into Saturday night’s visit to the Arizona Coyotes (6-5-1) at Gila River Arena to complete this weekend road back-to-back. It will mark defenseman Keith Yandle’s first return to face his former franchise since last spring’s deadline trade to New York.

It will also be the first time Lindberg visits the Coyotes franchise that selected him 57th overall in the second round of the 2010 NHL draft. The Rangers snagged Lindberg from the Coyotes in a May 2011 trade for forward prospect Ethan Werek.

The man who made that trade, current president and former general manager Glen Sather, is on this trip along with GM Jeff Gorton and assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld. Friday night, they had to like their team’s resolve against the loose but skilled Avalanche (4-9-1).

The Rangers lacked a bit of discipline committing six penalties. But captain Ryan McDonagh assisted on both goals. Zuccarello’s beautiful set in the slot gave Stepan his fourth goal of the year, and center Kevin Hayes’ assist on Lindberg’s goal was his sixth point in the last six games.

Chris Kreider, who had struggled badly lately, finally appeared to snap out of his funk. He didn’t add to his one goal total, but he was heavily involved. Forward Viktor Stalberg had four takeaways in the first period and was pressuring defensemen all night.

And rookie defenseman Dylan McIlrath had his best regular season game in his third appearance and his second straight start in place of healthy scratch Dan Boyle, 39, who is expected to return to the lineup Saturday in Arizona along with backup goalie Antti Raanta.

Girardi got turned around on MacKinnon’s power play goal and Lundqvist couldn’t stop MacKinnon’s low shot from in close with his glove, but the Rangers persisted and – as is their habit these last several years – they won.

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