New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan shook off the distraction of trade talk and scored two first-period goals, which set up the hosts’ impressive 5-1 win over Colorado on Tuesday and their fourth straight win.
Colorado missed a chance to close within a point of Central Division rival St Louis, who were beaten at home in a shootout by Ottawa. Elsewhere, Boston widened their lead atop the Atlantic Division with a win over slumping Vancouver, with nearest rival Tampa Bay losing at Minnesota.
Callahan, whose future with the Rangers is unsettled just before he heads to the Sochi Olympics, staked New York to a 2-0 lead with goals 3 minutes, 19 seconds apart.
Defenseman Anton Stralman added his first of the season in the second period, while Derick Brassard and Brad Richards scored in the third for the Rangers, who tightened their hold on second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Gabriel Landeskog scored in the second for the Avalanche, who had won their previous four.
St Louis crept closer to Central Division leaders Chicago by taking one point in a 5-4 shootout loss to Ottawa.
Kyle Turris scored the deciding goal in the fifth round of the shootout and also netted in regulation for the Senators.
T.J. Oshie had a goal and an assist for the Blues, who lost at home to an Eastern Conference opponent for the first time in 10 games this season. St Louis had a season-high 50 shots, but squandered a two-goal cushion in the third period and missed two chances to close it out in the shootout.
Jason Spezza had his third three-point game of the season and capped a three-goal flurry in a span of 2:35 that gave Ottawa a 4-3 lead midway through the third. Erik Karlsson had a goal and an assist to give him 53 points, best among NHL defensemen.
Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold tied it at 11:08 with his first goal of the season.
Boston’s Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic each had a goal and an assist for the Bruins in a 3-1 win over Vancouver, who lost their fifth straight.
Daniel Paille also scored for Boston, who have won six of their past seven.
Raphael Diaz pulled Vancouver to 2-1 in the second period, one day after coming over from Montreal in a trade.
Minnesota’s Darcy Kuemper made 34 saves to help the Wild beat Tampa Bay 2-1.
Jared Spurgeon had two assists in his return from a 14-game injury absence, while Nino Niederreiter and Dany Heatley scored for the Wild.
Valtteri Filppula scored his 20th of the season for the Lightning.
Dallas’ Antoine Roussel scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period as the Stars beat Phoenix 3-1.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 26 shots, while Shawn Horcoff also scored and Ryan Garbutt added an empty-netter for the Stars, who moved within a point of the Coyotes and two of Vancouver, who hold the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Antoine Vermette scored his eighth goal in nine games for the sluggish Coyotes.
Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn scored the tiebreaking goal with 1:03 remaining to lift the Jets to a 2-1 win over Carolina.
Florida’s Tim Thomas made 20 saves to help the Panthers end a three-game skid with a 4-1 win over Toronto.
Montreal’s Rene Bourque scored in the second period against his former team, helping the Canadiens defeat Calgary 2-0.
The New York Islanders beat Washington 1-0, with Andrew McDonald scoring early in the third period.