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Rangers' Nash targeting Tuesday or Thursday return

by James Murphy

MONTREAL -- New York Rangers forward Rick Nash, out with a concussion since Oct. 8, skated for the eighth straight day and with his team for the third time in as many days.

Nash again was symptom-free after taking contact for a second straight day but will not play Saturday when the Rangers play the Canadiens and try to earn their first win in Montreal since March 17, 2009.

Following the game-day skate at Bell Centre, Nash told the media he is shooting for a return to game action either Tuesday against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden or on the road Thursday against Dallas Stars.

"Hopefully one of the games Tuesday or Thursday for sure, as long as there's no setbacks," Nash said. "Everything's been positive and pushing it every day. It's four weeks of not doing too much so it takes some time to get the legs back and I think as of right now it's just conditioning, get the legs back in shape and make sure symptoms don't pop up."

Nash said he doesn't really know if there will be a certain moment or something that will let him know he's fully ready and that as of now it's just a matter of shaking off the rust or getting up to speed.

"I don't know if there's going to be a moment that tells me but I've only had two practices with the team, not counting pregame skate, so I think I need a few more practices," Nash said. "Some down low work, 3-on-3, and a bit more gamelike situations."

The wing was then asked if he was worried he had lost any of his goal-scoring prowess.

"The skill part feels like it's still there, I don't really feel like I lost my hands," Nash said with a chuckle. "They're still working and it's just getting the legs catching up to the hands."

The Rangers have lost eight straight at Bell Centre. They haven't won here since a 4-3 shootout victory March 17, 2009 and their last regulation win at Montreal was Feb. 3, 2008. The Bell Centre has also been house of horrors specifically for goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who is 4-5-2 with a 3.87 goals-against average and .876 save percentage at Montreal. His most recent appearance there was Jan. 15, 2012.

Not so coincidentally Cam Talbot (4-3-1, 1.97 GAA, .933 save percentage) will get the nod Saturday when the Rangers try to break the Bell Centre hex. Though Vigneault tried to point to Saturday being the first game of a back-to-back set for his team, the coach did acknowledge the lack of success that Lundqvist and the Rangers have had in Montreal.

"I would say it's the back-to-back situation and I would also say Cam Talbot's played real well. We've got two games in two nights," Vigneault said. "We, the Rangers, haven't won here in quite a few years, so it's time to give Talbot a chance."

The Rangers think it is a matter of channeling the raucous atmosphere to their advantage and enjoying the moment. Forward Brian Boyle wasn't even with the Rangers the last time they beat the Canadiens but he remembers his first time playing at Bell Centre, and despite being unable to help New York win there he enjoys every chance he gets to play in such an environment.

"Oh, it's great," Boyle said with a smile. "I mean that Coldplay guitar in the beginning, that's fun stuff. This is an Original Six match-up and I'm very thankful to be able to have the opportunity to play in games like this."

Boyle is hoping the Rangers can seize such a moment and feed off the crowd rather than allow them to distract him and his teammates from their game.

"Yeah it's hard place on the road to come in and win. They come out hard and their building is pretty amazing actually," he said. "The crowd noise and the lights and all that, it's pretty electric. We just need to use that for a positive vibe and not get too overwhelmed. But, yeah, it's been tough here. There's been some games we've won here but that was a while ago. The games are wild up here. It's a big stage, Hockey Night In Canada and things happen, but that's over and done with.

"We got a new team, news season and we have to try and come out flying as well. It's an exciting place and it shouldn't be difficult to get up for this one. If we get a win here it will be a big confidence boost for us."

Forward Dominic Moore (strained oblique muscle) will return to the Rangers lineup for the first time since Oct. 29, and defenseman Justin Falk will be in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 19; defenseman Michael Del Zotto will watch as a healthy scratch.

Here's what the Rangers lineup may look like:

Chris KreiderDerek StepanMats Zuccarello

Carl HagelinBrad RichardsRyan Callahan

Brian BoyleDerick BrassardDerek Dorsett

Benoit PouliotDominic MooreJ.T. Miller

Ryan McDonaghDan Girardi

Marc StaalAnton Stralman

John MooreJustin Falk

Cam Talbot

Henrik Lundqvist

Scratched: Michael Del Zotto

Injured: Rick Nash (concussion)

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