Rangers center Ryan Strome, center, drives past Colorado Avalanche defenseman...

Rangers center Ryan Strome, center, drives past Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson, right, as left wing J.T. Compher trails the play in the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Denver.  Credit: AP/David Zalubowski

GLENDALE, Ariz. – To hear Rangers center Ryan Strome tell it, sometimes it can be good to lose a game or two … or three out of four.

"That's part of playing in the NHL,’’ Strome said in the moments after the Rangers lost to the Colorado Avalanche, 4-2, Tuesday, in the front end of a back-to-back that ends Wednesday night in Arizona against the Coyotes.

"I think it's a great opportunity for growth,’’ he continued. "Honestly. I think that when things are going well, sometimes you get a little bit complacent. And sometimes (a loss can be) a little bit of a reality check.’’

Strome, who scored the first Rangers' first goal Tuesday, and coach Gerard Gallant were determined to focus on what they saw as the positives in the loss, which was their second in a row, third in four games, and second in two games to the high-flying Avalanche. Both player and coach touted the Rangers’ effort for the full 60 minutes in a game against one of the most highly-skilled teams in the league, and a legit contender for the Stanley Cup.

"Although it's a loss, I think that the effort was there,’’ Strome said. "And yeah, obviously (losing) three out of four, you can look at it that way, but I mean, we've had a pretty good season so far (18-7-3). And I think … good teams go through adversity, no matter where it is in the season. And maybe we're facing a little bit of it now, before Christmas.’’

The Rangers had won seven straight and 11 of 12 before losing to Colorado, 7-3, in Madison Square Garden last Wednesday. They rebounded with a 2-1 road win over lowly Buffalo two nights later, but then lost, 1-0, to Nashville Sunday before embarking on this quick, two-game road trip to Colorado and Arizona.

Against the Avs Tuesday, the Rangers were seemingly outclassed before making a tremendous push in the final three minutes when they trailed, 3-1. Gallant pulled goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (whose 27 saves kept his team in the game) with 3:17 remaining for an extra attacker, and the move worked when Julien Gauthier banged in a rebound with 2:02 remaining to pull the Rangers within 3-2.

The Rangers were outshot 31-28, but they outshot the Avs 10-2 over the final 3:10. Unfortunately for them, one of Colorado’s two shots was a breakaway goal by Valeri Nichushkin with 36.5 seconds left. It was Nichushkin’s second goal of the game, and it sealed the result.

"I thought we had a gutsy effort,’’ Gallant said. "I thought we played 60 minutes. It was probably -- quite a while since we played a full 60-minute game, and I thought we did that. They're a good team. They made some good plays. They forced us a little bit, but we battled back, we never quit, and that's what I like to see in our team.’’

After the game, Gallant told the players if they can produce a similar effort most nights, they will win a lot of games. They surely expected that to be the case Wednesday against the lowly Coyotes, a mess of a team whose owners last week avoided eviction from their home rink, Gila River Arena, by paying their delinquent $1.3 million tax bill to the state of Arizona. The Coyotes’ 5-20-2 record entering Wednesday was the worst in the league.

Goaltender Keith Kinkaid, the Farmingville native, was expected to get the start Wednesday against Arizona. Kinkaid was called up from AHL Hartford last Thursday to replace Adam Huska, who allowed seven goals in last week’s loss to Colorado. Huska had been called up from Hartford after Igor Shesterkin was placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

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