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Rangers hope Nash can help them finish off Flyers

by Mike G. Morreale /

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault believes it's only a matter of time before left wing Rick Nash finds the back of the net in their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Philadelphia Flyers.

He's hopeful that day will come Tuesday, when the Rangers and Flyers play in Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS, MSG, CSN-PH). The Rangers hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series.

"He's due," Vigneault said of Nash. "He's had some great looks and is working really hard. I have and his teammates have a lot of confidence in Rick. He's doing a lot of the right things, and sooner or later the puck is going to go in."

In five games, Nash has no goals and four assists. The 29-year-old finished sixth on the Rangers in scoring with 39 points (26 goals, 13 assists) in 65 regular-season games. Nash might be struggling to find the back of the net, but he is tied for the team lead with Brad Richards with 23 shots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs while averaging 18:40 of ice time per game.

Nash's linemate, center Derek Stepan, believes the trio has played extremely well and been very productive.

"It's tough to generate offense in the playoffs, and we've done a good job of working and trying to create opportunities for ourselves," Stepan said. "Rick's going to find a way to find the back of the net and he's going to continue to get good looks because he's such an elite player. He creates space for himself."

The Rangers are certainly going to pull out all the stops to win Tuesday and close out the Flyers. A loss sets up a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

"We really need to focus on what we need to do against Philly to have a good game," Vigneault said. "We have a game plan that we've laid out, and have modified and adjusted as the games have developed. But the players know the game plan, and it's a matter of focusing and going out and executing it real hard."

The last time the Rangers held a 3-2 series lead was in the second round of the 2012 playoffs against the Washington Capitals. They would lose Game 6 but win Game 7 at Madison Square Garden, where they are 5-0 all-time in Game 7s.

If the Rangers do finish off the Flyers on Tuesday, it would mark the first time since a five-game, first-round ouster of the New Jersey Devils during the 2008 playoffs that they won a series in fewer than seven games. Three of their past five series have gone seven games, with a fourth going six.

"We obviously put ourselves in a good situation, but I think that's been the storyline for both teams," Rangers defenseman John Moore said. "It's stringing together two consecutive strong efforts. We know they're going to come out flying and we're going to see their best. So we have to respond."

Stepan knows it's all about matching Philadelphia's intensity and desperation.

"That's the biggest thing I've learned in my short playoff career," Stepan said. "You have to make sure you come out hard and with the same intensity they have, or even up your level."

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, who leads the team with 14 blocked shots in the playoffs, expects another furious start by the Flyers from the opening faceoff.

"They are going to throw pucks at the net, finish every check and do whatever it takes to stay alive," Girardi said. "We have to be really ready for that. That's what we have to focus on."

Vigneault wouldn't acknowledge whether he'll keep the same lineup for Game 6 that he had in the 4-2 victory Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

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