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Nash not letting lack of puck luck frustrate him

by Dan Rosen

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rick Nash hasn't exactly had it easy through four games against the Washington Capitals.

He couldn't score in Game 1 despite 16 shot attempts, including eight on goal. He hit the post late in Game 2 -- an inch to the right and maybe the New York Rangers have a 3-1 series lead instead of it being 2-2 going back to Washington for Game 5 on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2).

Nash backed his way into a scoring chance in Game 4 by posting up defenseman Steve Oleksy, but his whirling backhanded shot was stopped by Braden Holtby. Nash had two shots on goal and was a minus-2 in the game.

Yes, Nash had the assist on Derek Stepan's game-winning goal in Game 3, but through four games leads the series with 17 shots on goal yet hasn't put a single puck past Holtby. Nash was limited to five shifts and 2:51 of ice time in the third period of Game 4. It was the least he has played in any of the 12 periods so far in the series.

But if Nash is frustrated, he's doing a heck of a job keeping it to himself.

"I feel good," Nash told Thursday. "I feel like I'm creating my chances. I feel like I'm trying to get other guys the puck to create chances. You know, we're winning and that's the main thing. We win as a team and we lose as a team. I'll keep trying my hardest to create opportunities and score goals and keep them out of my own net, but it's coming. It'll come."

In some ways Nash has been the player the Rangers want him to be. He's been physical. He's taking up space. He's using his body to create. He's been noticeable in a way that Washington continuously tries to put two guys on him. But he hasn't scored in a series that is tied 2-2.

Rangers coach John Tortorella said he isn't concerned or worried that Nash's lack of production will bother him.

"Not at all. He's not built that way," Tortorella said. "Does he want to have a little bit more ice and does he want to score a goal? He had a couple of great chances [Wednesday] night, chances all through the games here. It hasn't gone for him, but there's no chance that will happen with him. In the short time I've been with him I just can't see that ever happening. He's too much of a pro."

Nash said the biggest key for him to break out is to find more space in the offensive zone. He credited Washington's wings with doing a terrific job of collapsing on him to limit his time and space. Normally, he said, it's been two guys collapsing on him, which obviously leaves somebody open.

"They're shrinking the zone," Nash said. "To beat that I've gotta use the weak-side 'D' and figure it out that way."

Easier said than done, of course, but Nash isn't about to make excuses for himself.

"It happens so fast that it's tough, but it's what you're supposed to do," Nash said. "It's what we do, so I've gotta figure it out and find that [open] guy."

The good news for the Rangers is they're getting secondary scoring from Carl Hagelin, Derick Brassard, Brian Boyle, Arron Asham and Dan Girardi.

"Guys are stepping up and that's what you need in the playoffs," Nash said.

New York, though, may need Nash to find a way if it's going to win the series.

"I think I'm getting a chance here and there, but it's a matter of working for that space," Nash said. "If they're going to shrink the zone even more, then I have to work even harder for opportunities."


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