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Rangers' Nash relieved to get back in scoring column

by Dan Rosen /

WASHINGTON -- New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash wanted to feel well about how he was playing entering Game 6 against the Washington Capitals on Sunday. All he felt was the weight of not scoring.

"It's tricky because I felt good, but my job is to score so it was definitely frustrating," Nash said.

Frustration turned into relief in the Rangers' 4-3 win at Verizon Center.

Nash's goal at 54 seconds of the third period gave New York a 3-1 lead. The Rangers eventually held on to even the best-of-7 series at 3-3.

Game 7 is Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Nash had one goal on a team-high 38 shots on goal entering Game 6. His absence on the score sheet was starting to bring back comparisons to the playoffs last season, when he scored three goals on a team-high 83 shots.

"It's a weight off my shoulders," Nash said. "It was frustrating when you feel like you're letting your guys down and your organization down by not scoring. The more important thing that I focus on is the wins."

Nash felt he was contributing in the wins, and even playing well in the losses, but it wasn't enough because he wasn't scoring. His lone goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs came with six seconds to play in New York's 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of the first round.

But Nash's teammates never lost faith in him.

"It was a matter of time," said Rangers forward Chris Kreider, who scored twice in the first period. "Nobody was surprised on the bench. The guy was playing so well. He's been our best player every single game outside of [goalie Henrik Lundqvist]."

There is merit to what Kreider is saying.

Nash not only led the Rangers with 38 shots heading into Game 6, but he was generating chances and has been an important player on the penalty kill, which has killed off 10 consecutive power plays against the Capitals, who had the best power play in the NHL during the regular season.

Rick Nash
Left Wing - NYR
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 7
SOG: 39 | +/-: 3
Nash is tied with center Derek Stepan for second on the Rangers with seven points, including five assists. He is also a plus-3 and has a 51.55 shot-attempts percentage (SAT).

"He's been playing well," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Anybody that has really followed this series on both ends of the rink will tell you he's been an effective player, but he's an offensive guy that is known for his scoring and he came up real big for us at an important time."

He did that throughout the regular season and finished with a career-high 42 goals, which was third in the NHL behind Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (53 goals) and Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (43 goals).

Ovechkin and Stamkos are struggling to score in the playoffs. Ovechkin has no goals in the past four games after scoring four in the first nine; Stamkos scored his second goal in 12 playoff games Saturday in Game 5 against the Montreal Canadiens.

"Obviously [goals] been hard to come by," Nash said.

And just because he got one, it doesn't mean he's going to make it out to be bigger than it is.

"It's one goal; it's not that big of a deal," Nash said. "The win is a big deal to me."


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