Adam Huska of the Rangers looks on as the Avalanche...

Adam Huska of the Rangers looks on as the Avalanche celebrate a goal in the second period at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

It was a test, and the Rangers flunked it in a big way.

But the good news is that it was not even a midterm, merely a bad early December night at the office for a tired team playing its No. 4 goaltender against one of the more dangerous offensive teams on Earth.

So after Wednesday night’s 7-3 flop against the Avalanche, which ended the Rangers’ winning streak at seven games, their mantra boiled down to this: We’re on to Buffalo, where on Friday night they will meet the Sabres as they seek to begin a new winning streak.

"It’s like losing 3-2 in overtime or 3-2 [in regulation]," coach Gerard Gallant said. "[It was] 7-3 tonight. We didn’t play well. We’ll bury it and go on to the next one."

Fair enough, but the lopsided loss to Colorado was a reminder that as well as the Rangers have played in going 17-5-3, they mostly have feasted on the NHL’s middle- and lower-level teams.

In winning 11 of their past 13 games, they have taken all 10 against teams currently not among the top three in their divisions and won only one of three against teams that are in the top three.

The trend goes back to before this most recent hot stretch.

Not that there’s anything wrong with beating up on teams below you in the standings. But now that the Rangers are viewed as potential postseason noisemakers, succeeding against the league’s elite also would be a good idea.

They will not see that in Buffalo. The Sabres have lost nine of their last 10 games. After that comes a home game against middling Nashville on Sunday, then a visit on Tuesday to . . . oh, look: the Avalanche again!

"We’ve got another chance in a couple of days," Jacob Trouba said, "and we’ll be ready for them."

It is unclear when their No. 1 goalie, Igor Shesterkin, will be ready for action. He is eligible to come off the injured list from a lower-body injury on Saturday, but Gallant said after Wednesday’s game that Shesterkin had not yet skated with the team.

Alexandar Georgiev presumably will get the nod for most of the upcoming five games in eight days — including back-to-back in Colorado and Arizona on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But on Thursday, Georgiev got a more experienced backup when the Rangers returned Adam Huska, who struggled in his debut on Wednesday, to Hartford and replaced him with Farmingville native Keith Kinkaid, who had been in COVID-19 protocol with Hartford.

"The one good is there are so many games coming up," Barclay Goodrow said after Wednesday’s loss. "Just put it in the rearview mirror pretty quickly and we see [the Avalanche] again next week."

Trouba rejected the use of the word "adversity" to describe the hiccup against Colorado at the Garden.

"I don’t think it’s adversity," he said. "You’re going to lose games throughout the season. We’re on a heavy, heavy stretch of hockey for the next little while, until Christmas pretty much. You have to take care of yourselves, have a short memory and move on quick to the next game."

The NHL schedule helps. This is no time to look back, because what is ahead already is here.

Notes & quotes: F Gregg McKegg is out of COVID protocol and has been returned to the active roster. Morgan Barron was returned to Hartford.

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