Nash broke around defenseman Victor Hedman, cut to the net and scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period as the Rangers beat Tampa Bay 3-2 on Saturday night, ending the Lightning's five-game winning streak.
"It always feels good to score, but mainly it was the win that felt the best," said Nash, who was acquired from Columbus during the summer and had scored just once in his first seven games with the Rangers. He doubled that number when he beat Hedman down the right side and slid the puck past Mathieu Garon with 3:04 gone in the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie.
"He's a great player," Hedman said. "He's got a lot of skills. So strong, so big."
Rangers coach John Tortorella has been pleased with Nash's effort and was glad to see his work pay off.
"He's been in our offense the whole time he's been here," Tortorella said. "He's been around chances the whole time. It's nice for him to score a goal. You could sense that he was getting a little frustrated."
Tampa Bay cut the deficit to one goal when Steven Stamkos, who had opened the scoring early in the second period, beat Rangers goaltender Martin Biron with 21 seconds remaining and Garon on the bench for an extra attacker. But Stamkos' seventh goal of the season wasn't enough to keep the Lightning (6-2-0) from losing for the first time in six home games -- and the first time anywhere since Jan. 21.
The win was the first road victory of the season for the Rangers (4-4-0) as they bounced back from a poor effort in a 3-0 home loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday by shutting down a Tampa Bay offense that came into the game averaging 5.3 goals.
"I thought everybody gave effort," Tortorella said. "I thought our whole team was much better as far as puck protection, on the boards, especially offensively. We had more offensive zone time and we find a way to win again."
Stamkos opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 4:22 of the second period, taking a pass from Matt Carle and beating Biron from 10 feet. The goal extended his points streak to eight games. Martin St. Louis earned the other assist, his 11th of the season.
The Rangers tied the game at 9:50, eight seconds after a hooking penalty to Stamkos expired. Pyatt got a shot through a crowd in front of the Lightning net and Derek Stepan flipped in the rebound for his first goal of the season.
"We were really aggressive from the get-go," Hagelin said. "We got in. We didn't give them a lot of time with the puck and that's the type of hockey we need to play to be successful."
Biron, making his first start of the season after Henrik Lundqvist played the first seven games, stopped 30 shots for to get the win.
"I think it's a great feeling to come out with a win," Biron said. "Especially with the way this team has been going at home."
The Lightning had outscored their opponents 16-5 in the third period before Saturday. But Tampa Bay was playing the second of a back-to-back -- the Lightning routed the Winnipeg Jets 8-3 on Friday night -- and coach Guy Boucher recognized that his team wore down as the game progressed.
"We pushed as much as we could," he said. "We gave everything we had. It was a tight game and it was anybody's game. They capitalized on our mistakes and we did not. Our offensive guys got a lot of ice time and having played yesterday, yeah, that's not exactly the position you want to be in."
In the final seconds, a slap shot from the left point hit Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier in the foot and after he fell, he left the ice visibly limping. The Lightning said he was being evaluated but had no further word on his condition.
The Rangers will try to go over the .500 mark when they visit the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night at the Prudential Center. The Lightning begin a four-game road trip Tuesday in Philadelphia.
|PPG - Steven Stamkos (6) ASST: Matthew Carle (4), Martin St. Louis (11)|
1 - 0 TBL
|Derek Stepan (1) ASST: Taylor Pyatt (1), Carl Hagelin (1)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Rick Nash (2) ASST: Brad Richards (5), Marc Staal (3)|
2 - 1 NYR
|Carl Hagelin (1) ASST: Taylor Pyatt (2)|
3 - 1 NYR
|Steven Stamkos (7) ASST: Matthew Carle (5), Ryan Malone (1)|
3 - 2 NYR
|Stu Bickel Hooking against Tom Pyatt|
|Steven Stamkos Hooking against Carl Hagelin|
|Eric Brewer Interference against Jeff Halpern|