GLENDALE, ARIZONA----So much for all the quotes from the coach and players about how getting away from Madison Square Garden would be a blessing. Close doesn’t count.

                      In the first stop of a three-game Western swing, emergency starter Chad Johnson allowed three goals on seven shots in the first period as the Phoenix Coyotes edged the Rangers 3-2, sending the beleaguered Blueshirts to their fifth consecutive loss, a season-high.  

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            Marian Gaborik’s goal, his 30th of the season and first in six games at 9:42 of the third period and Sean Avery's wrister from the right circle on a two-on-one at 11:50 rallied the Rangers. But Michal Rozsival's third penalty with 1:55 left allowed the Coyotes (32-18-5) to hang on, although Gaborik hit the post on a shorthanded bid with 1:15 to go.
                 The final opportunity, when he knocked Ryan Callahan’s rebound out of the air and off the iron rather than into the empty net vacated by Jason LaBarbera, “pretty much tells the story of this team right now,” said Gaborik.
                  At 24-24-7, the Rangers have cobbled together just four points in the last nine games and fallen out of a playoff spot in the East.
                  “I don’t know if ‘encouraging’ is the word,” said Vinny Prospal. “We have to generate offense somehow, not just when we’re down three-nothing.” The Rangers had just foour shots in the first period and have scored the opening goal just once in nine games.
                   The three early goals “doesn’t help momentum,” said coach John Tortorella. “I thought we battled back and regrouped and made a game out of it, and we bang it off the post at the end.” But the coach and several players agreed that seven penalties halted any consistent attack as the Rangers tried to claw back. “I thought our penalty killing was outstanding,” said Tortorella, “but it’s just too many. The last one is not a penalty; he runs into (Rozsival’s) stick and it was like he was shot when he goes down.”                      
              Johnson, who learned yesterday morning that he would step in for the flu-ridden Lundqvist, said the first period “set the tone. It was a big uphill climb.” Shane Doan put the Coyotes ahead 1-0 at 6:06, when he scooted through two Rangers, picked up the bouncing puck, and his shot from in front trickled past Johnson.  It was the Coyotes captain’s sixth point in three games, and Michael Del Zotto took responsibility. “I’ve got to get either the puck or take the man and I didn’t do either,” he said.
            Mikkel Boedeker, called up yesterday for the injured Scotty Upshall, made it 2-0 just 41 seconds later after a dash to the net from the left side.  He took a pass from veteran Robert Lang alone in front, deked around Johnson and tucked the puck inside the right post. The newly formed Brandon Dubinsky-Erik Christensen-Chris Drury line was caught up ice. Sami Lepisto’s shot from the blue line though a screen, his first NHL goal,  extended the lead to three at 14:13.
           Johnson, 23, who is now 0-2-1, settled down and ended with 17 consecutive saves. “He stayed within himself, he didn’t get into a panic,” said Tortorella. “I thought he fought the rebounds a little bit, but that’s a good sign for him.”   
            The Rangers, with one goal in the previous three games on the road, didn’t do much early to threaten LaBarbera early, who came into the game with a 3-4-1 record. That's not a good sign. 
             Neither was the power play, 0-for-3 and now 3-for-39. Nor the
 
 
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           Lundqvist says he's unsure whether stomach flu will be gone by tonight's game in Colorado. He sat inside in the locker room to stay warm during the second and third periods....Gaborik has scored 30 or more goals in 6 of 9 seasons; the last NYR player with 30 was Jaromir Jagr in 2006-07...Avery's goal was his first in 12 games and first on the road...Enver Lisin, in his first game back here since last summer's trade, had three shots in 11:12...Petr Prucha had one and Lauri Korpikoski zero...
 
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