Avalanche try to get on track against Rangers

( - The Colorado Avalanche will try to give their fading playoff chances a boost when they attempt to halt a three-game slide in Thursday's home clash against the New York Rangers.

Colorado won the Central Division title in 2013-14, but the club currently finds itself eight points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Regulation defeats in each of its last three games haven't helped the situation and neither has a 4-5-3 mark over the past 12 outings.

The Avalanche begin a four-game homestand tonight. In addition to tilts against the Rangers and Arizona Coyotes, the residency also will feature tests versus Dallas and Los Angeles, two teams currently ahead of Colorado in the West standings.

Colorado has been idle since Sunday's game in Winnipeg, which the Jets claimed by a 5-3 score. Alex Tanguay and Matt Duchene each had a goal and an assist in the loss and Tyson Barrie also scored for the Avalanche.

Semyon Varlamov allowed all five goals on 29 shots for Avs, who scored the game's first goal before allowing Winnipeg to notch four markers in the second period to grab a 4-1 advantage.

"They got four quick ones on us and I thought we were playing a good hockey game at that point," said Barrie. "But, you know, they got those goals and things got out of hand pretty quickly."

Colorado is 13-10-3 as the host this season and has won seven of its past eight home games against the Rangers. Overall, the Avalanche has claimed five of six and 12 of the past 15 encounters in this series.

The Rangers, however, enter tonight with a solid 5-1-1 record over their last seven games and they halted a two-game slide with Tuesday's 5-4 win in Toronto.

Mats Zuccarello scored twice, including the winner late in the third as the New York edged the Maple Leafs to begin a four-game road trip and improve its away mark to 14-9-1.

Dominic Moore, Dan Boyle and Kevin Hayes all scored for the Rangers, while Cam Talbot allowed four goals on 33 shots.

Talbot has started all four games since No. 1 netminder Henrik Lundqvist went down to a vascular injury and he is 2-1-1 in those outings. He will get the call again tonight.

"It was not a pretty game, but sometimes you just have to grease one out and find a way which I thought we were able to do tonight," said Talbot.

The victory moved New York one point ahead of Washington for third place in the Metropolitan Division, but the Capitals went back in front by a point after beating San Jose on Wednesday.

The Rangers will continue their swing Saturday in Arizona before capping it Monday against the rival New York Islanders.