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Nash scores twice to lead Rangers past Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The New York Rangers had faced the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames on the same road trip 19 times before, but they had never won all three games.

Until now.

After recording victories in Vancouver and Edmonton over the weekend, the Rangers got two goals from Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves in a 5-2 win against the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday.

The Rangers (15-10-4), who have won four in a row, defeated the Canucks 5-1 on Saturday and the Oilers by a 2-0 score Sunday. They have earned points in nine of 10 games against Western Conference opponents this season, including all four games on the road.

"It's good to get these three wins," Nash said. "We've made this road trip a lot over my career and it doesn't feel like it ever shaked out three wins. I think that's the most exciting part."

The Flames (17-14-2) are trending in the opposite direction.

Calgary has lost six straight games in regulation for the first time since Jan. 13-25, 2010 and has not earned a point since a 4-3 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 4. The Flames hadn't previously lost back-to-back games in regulation this season before their current skid.

"It's on us tonight," Flames defenseman Kris Russell said. "There's a few other games I felt could have went our way, but we handed them their goals tonight. They're an opportunistic team, a team that when they get opportunities, they score goals. They have too much firepower to give them too many 2-on-1s and have breakdowns like that. So, it's on us.

"Internally, we've got to figure out what's going on here and turn it around. We've got three games left before Christmas, can go out on a high note, and that's what we've got to look forward to."

It took New York 7:12 to record its first shot on Flames goaltender Karri Ramo. Nash put his first of two past him at 11:22.

Calgary's dump-in rang around the glass in the Rangers' end and cleared the zone, springing Nash on a partial breakaway. The Rangers forward deked Ramo before wrapping the puck around his outstretched pad to put New York up 1-0.

"I don't know how long the puck stayed up on the ridge for," Nash said. "It seemed like forever. It was just a backhand-forehand move."

The goal, Nash's 19th of the season, extended his career-high point streak to 11 straight games and matched Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin for the longest streak this season.

"I don't think it's a surprise," Rangers forward Derek Stepan said. "Rick Nash is an elite hockey player. He was playing the same way last year. Unfortunately he wasn't able to find the back of the net [as much], but this year he's been our best player. It's so important.

"He's a leader in this locker room. He's been leading by example all year long. He also leads in the room, the way he helps some of the younger guys. He's been leading by example all year and he seems to be doing a lot lately, getting us on the board early and just taking over."

A miscue put New York up by two in the final seconds of the first period.

Russell corralled a rebound off the initial shot from Mats Zuccarello and tried to tap it back to Ramo to cover up, but Chris Kreider poked the botched exchange by the Flames goaltender with 7.8 seconds remaining in the first. The goal, Kreider's fifth of the season, was his first in 13 games.

"It's my fault," Russell said. "It's not a play we work on or anything. It was kind of bouncing and I just figured I'd get him to freeze it, but we never said we'd work on that, by any means, so it can't happen.

"I've just got to clear it from the front of the net and if a guy's there, battle it out and get it down the ice."

Ramo denied Kreider with two pad saves on a partial breakaway one minute into the second period, but Nash beat the Flames goaltender again with a shorthanded goal at 3:06, when he took a return pass from Stepan on an odd-man rush and scored his 20th goal this season.

Nash has eight goals and six assists during his 11-game point streak.

"The biggest thing is Stepan's making great plays and I'm getting lucky with pucks going around the boards," Nash said. "It's one of those things you don't want to think about too much when they're going right."

Stepan's wraparound goal at 11:15 gave the Rangers a 4-0 lead and chased Ramo after 13 shots.

"After I get the puck around the net, I'm not known to be super-fast, but I had a good amount of speed so I know that if I don't get it in, Marty [St. Louis] and [Kreider] are both there. It's just kind of a next play idea. Once I got behind the net, I did notice I had a little bit of net."

Calgary responded at 11:56 after Jiri Hudler deflected Mark Giordano's point shot between Lundqvist's legs to trim New York's lead.

Lundqvist, the NHL's Third Star of the Week, thwarted any chance of a third-period comeback.

The Rangers goaltender denied Joe Colborne's one-timer midway through the third before Josh Jooris' centering pass hit Dominic Moore and crawled across the goal line. On the next shift, Lundqvist blocked a chance from Curtis Glencross on the edge of the crease.

With goaltender Jonas Hiller on the bench in favor of the extra attacker, Carl Hagelin found the empty net with 3:01 remaining to give New York a 5-1 lead.

Glencross replied with a power-play goal, one-timing a pass from Sean Monahan behind Lundqvist at 18:45.

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