In a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series, Nash struggled to make plays and was roundly booed during the third period by the fans at Madison Square Garden.
When the final horn sounded, the Rangers trailed the best-of-7 series 3-1 and Nash remained without a goal in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs and without a point in eight straight games. The series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), when the Rangers will play with their season on the line for the second time in nine days.
The Rangers' leading goal scorer during the regular season (26) and one of New York's highest-paid players, Nash accepted the criticism from the MSG crowd.
"It's tough, but I understand where they're coming from. I have to take ownership of those plays," Nash said. "It doesn't matter what you do all year, it matters what you do in the playoffs when things count. Obviously I've been struggling."
Nash now has two goals in 27 career playoff games, a figure that clearly wasn't lost on the fans who booed him every time he touched the puck in the third period Wednesday. His coaches and teammates rushed to his defense and weren't quite so diplomatic about the treatment Nash received.
"Does it upset me? Yeah. It upsets everybody in the locker room. We're not 15th in the League, finished in April losing 8-1. We're in the second round of the playoffs, but that's my opinion," forward Brad Richards said. "It's not one person, it's the whole team. As a team we didn't play [well] tonight and for one guy or two guys to get booed tonight, that's frustrating as a team because we all put our foot in this together tonight."
To his credit, Nash leads all players with 45 shots this postseason. But the fact remains that one of the NHL's more prolific scorers has played 11 games in these playoffs and is still without a goal. That figure isn't indicative of Nash's play, according to New York coach Alain Vigneault.
"Rick is trying real hard. He had some real good looks. Obviously, he feels a lot of pressure right now. I've got to tell you, he's battling real hard," Vigneault said. "Ultimately the fans can do what they want. I'd prefer right now our fans were supportive. It might not look it, but we're trying to put our best game on the ice. We're trying our best."
Taking stock of one of the toughest nights of his career, Nash acknowledged that he has to do more if the Rangers hope to extend this second-round series to a sixth game.
"It's a battle right now," Nash. "Especially when plays happen like they did. It's all too frustrating."