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Nash powers Rangers into Thanksgiving Showdown

by Brian Compton / NHL.com

New York Rangers forward Rick Nash hasn't been the dominant power forward he was for much of last season, but his lack of production has flown under the radar thanks to the Rangers' scorching start.

But Nash was on top of his game on Saturday when he scored three goals, including the game-winner, in New York's 5-4 overtime win at the Florida Panthers.

Nash, who scored 42 goals last season, has five goals in 18 games. He'll have a chance to show a national audience that he remains one of the NHL's premier power forwards when the Rangers (15-3-2) face the Boston Bruins (10-8-1) at TD Garden on Friday in the Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN).

Rick Nash and the New York Rangers take on the Boston Bruins at TD Garden as part of a action-packed Friday in the NHL. (Photo: Getty Images)

"There's no doubt Rick Nash played one of his better games this year," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said after the win Saturday. "Time will tell [whether this was a breakout game]. He had a good game tonight, and we'll see if he can follow it up."

Here are other games that should garner plenty of attention:

Tuesday, Nov. 24 -- Ottawa Senators at Dallas Stars (8:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, RDS, TSN5, FS-SW+) -- The Senators have points in eight of their past 10 games and have moved into second place in the Atlantic Division. Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson has five goals and five assists during a six-game point streak. Dallas has won five in a row and sits atop the NHL standings with 34 points. Jamie Benn has four goals and four assists and Tyler Seguin has two goals and five assists over the course of the winning streak.

Wednesday, Nov. 25 -- Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers (SNE, SNO, RDS, MSG2) -- Goaltending matchups don't get much better than the one that will be expected at Madison Square Garden. After missing nine games because of a lower-body injury, Canadiens goalie Carey Price returned and won back-to-back games against the New York Islanders. He has won nine of 11 starts this season. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is 11-3-2 with a 1.85 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage.

Friday, Nov. 27 -- Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, WGN) -- Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 16 games Saturday and leads the NHL with 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) in 21 games. Anaheim opens a six-game homestand, one that could play a huge role in determining its fate.

Saturday, Nov. 28 -- Edmonton Oilers at Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; SN, ROOT) -- Some of the NHL's most skilled players will share the same sheet of ice at Consol Energy Center, where the Penguins have won seven of 11 home games this season. Phil Kessel broke a tie midway through the third period to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 win at Edmonton on Nov. 6.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings -- The Michigan native has scored in four straight games, becoming the first teenager to do that for Detroit since Steve Yzerman in Nov. 1984. Larkin has eight goals and seven assists in 21 games. The Red Wings are 3-0-1 during Larkin's goal streak.

"It's pretty cool," he said. "I contributed more in the four games, but it's good to help the team."

Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks -- Couture hasn't played since his freak injury during a practice in New Jersey on Oct. 15, but he skated at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Saturday and is inching closer to returning. Couture had surgery to repair a fractured fibula Oct. 17.

"That was the first day of skating pretty good, just doing some conditioning," Couture told CSN Bay Area. "It's cliché, but it's day-by-day. [If] it reacts well we go a step further."

Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche -- It's been another rough start for the Avalanche as a whole, but Duchene extended his point streak to six games during a 7-3 loss at the Washington Capitals on Saturday. Duchene ranks second on the Avalanche with 18 points (10 goals) in 20 games. Colorado has allowed 16 goals in three straight losses.

LINE CHANGES

Andre Burakovsky, Washington Capitals -- A first-round pick (No. 23) in 2013, Burakovsky has two goals in 18 games this season and was a healthy scratch against Colorado on Saturday. Burakovsky has one assist in his past 11 games.

"I'm trying to [make it] almost impossible for him to take me out of the lineup," Burakovsky told The Washington Post on Sunday in regards to coach Barry Trotz. "I don't think I belong in the stands, but sometimes you have to be there. Then you just have to find a way back quick to the lineup and get stronger from this."

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins -- The offensive woes continue for the Penguins, and their captain started the third period of a 3-1 loss against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday on a line with Beau Bennett and Chris Kunitz. Pittsburgh has scored 44 goals in 20 games this season; Crosby has three of them.

"We've got to find ways to get [shots] through," Crosby said. "Good things happen when you shoot the puck and you have guys going [to the net]."

Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets -- Johansen played a season-low 13:52 in a 5-3 loss against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday and was on the fourth line with Kerby Rychel and Josh Anderson for the final two periods. Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella declined to discuss individual player performances after the loss.

"We brought our game down to a level that you can't succeed at in this league," Johansen said after the loss. "We're too far into the season to be having games like this."

POINT SHOTS

Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher will have surgery Monday after breaking two fingers during a 4-2 win against the Islanders on Sunday. Gallagher, who is out indefinitely, has nine goals and 10 assists. "Every time you lose a player that has an important role on any team, it's always a huge loss," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "He was playing his best hockey, obviously. He's progressing every year, he's still a young player. It's a big loss, but what are we going to do? We can't feel sorry for ourselves. That's the way it is." … With their 5-0 win against Anaheim on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lightning are 3-1-1 in their past five games. Are they turning things around? "I don't want to say that right now," goalie Ben Bishop told the Tampa Bay Times. "(I) don't want to jinx anything." … Rangers forward Chris Kreider became the first player to have a penalty shot in consecutive games since Marian Hossa did it with the Atlanta Thrashers in Dec. 2005. Kreider did not score on either shot and is 0-for-3 in his career. … The Philadelphia Flyers' 34 goals is a franchise low after 20 games, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Their previous low was 39 in 1968-69. … Sharks forward Patrick Marleau got his 1,000th point Saturday. "You never know what it's about until it's done and over with," Marleau said. "I guess just having everybody coming up and congratulating me and throwing different numbers out there, it starts to take a little bit of shape how big it kind of is. So obviously, a lot of teammates are a part of it over the years and it wouldn't happen without them."

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