DENVER — This is how well things are going for Oscar Lindberg at the moment: He scores even from improbable angles.
Like crazy improbable angles.
Don't question Lindberg's logic in shooting a side-angle shot that somehow hit off Reto Berra and rolled in for the game-winner, just accept it. That's what his coach is doing.
"Sometimes when a player feels it, sees it, I always like that bad-angle shot," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "I always think it's a good idea."
Lindberg is off to quite the start for New York, leading all NHL rookies with seven goals. His score off Berra was remarkable, considering there was no angle to make the shot, but he still found a way to knock it in off the pads of Berra.
"He's in that zone right now, where he's making great plays," said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made 29 saves as the Rangers improved to 14-2 on the road against Western Conference teams dating to last season. "He's in the right place. You earn your bounces by working hard and making good decisions."
The bounces certainly aren't going the Avalanche's way. They've now dropped four of their last five games.
"It's a very, very frustrating start of a season," said coach Patrick Roy, whose team begins a seven-game trip on Tuesday. "We just don't have the confidence around the net right now that could make the difference."
Colorado was cruising along with a 1-0 lead until the second period, when Stepan scored on a power play. Moments later, Lindberg scored again. That's all the support Lundqvist needed.
"When we get the lead, we know what to do," Lundqvist said. "At times, think we sit back a little too much. At the same time, when we're under pressure, it's not like we're panicking, we still know what we need to do."
Like rely on Lundqvist, who had 14 saves in the third period and was under constant pressure after Colorado pulled Berra with around 1:47 remaining for an extra skater.
"Their goalie played well," said Nathan MacKinnon, who scored a power-play goal. "We had some chances, but we've got to find a way to score one. When Reto plays that well we need to help him out a lot more than we did. Definitely disappointing."
Lundqvist now has 19,397 career saves for the Rangers in the regular season and playoffs. He's eight saves away from breaking the franchise mark held by Mike Richter (19,404). This also was his 742nd game with the team, tying Mike Richter for the most appearances by a goaltender in franchise history.
And yes, the records mean something to him.
"It's surreal at times, because you grew up watching these guys," Lundqvist said. "But it's been a lot of fun to be part of this franchise. Been lucky to be part of it for so long."
Alex Tanguay left late in the second period after being hit by Lindberg in the corner. Lindberg drew a tripping penalty, but the Avalanche couldn't convert. Tanguay briefly returned in the third period before leaving for the night with a knee injury.
Rick Nash didn't play because balky back that tightened up on him in practice. Vigneault told reporters before the game that he thought the injury was minor. Nash has one goal and five assists this season.
Lindberg helped pick up the slack. Has been helping out all season.
"I didn't expect to score this many goals," Lindberg said. "I'm not trying to think about it too much. I'm just trying to play."