NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Rick Nash will return to the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, TSN4, NHL.TV). He has missed the past eight games and 12 of the past 15 with a groin injury.
"A hundred percent, ready to go," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.
Nash, who has 13 goals and 20 points in 30 games this season, missed four games from Dec. 8-13 with a groin injury. He returned for the next three and even scored two goals, including a game-winner against the Dallas Stars in his first game back on Dec. 15.
However, Nash admitted he was feeling lingering pain in his groin during those three games. That forced him out of the lineup again, and he hasn't played since Dec. 18.
"That's my own fault," Nash said. "The trainers told me they wanted me to feel better, but being an athlete, being a competitor you feel you can play through it. I probably should have done a better job listening."
Nash said he doesn't feel any lingering pain when he skates now, but he expects it will take him a few games to feel like he did before he initially sustained the injury, when he felt like he was skating well, getting to the net, getting chances and playing a strong two-way game.
"Realistically I think it'll take a few games to feel confidence in the groins again," Nash said. "I think it'll take a few games to find my lungs. Even though we've been going hard on the bike and hard on the ice, there's nothing like playing a game."
Video: NYR@NSH: Nash buries an outstanding top-shelf goal
Vigneault said Nash was hoping to return before the team went on a five-day break for the bye week, but the doctors decided a cautious approach would better serve Nash and the Rangers.
"Before he got injured he was one of our best two-way players, if not our best two-way player at that time," Vigneault said. "He was competing real hard. He was using all his tools that make him the player that he is, that power forward that can take pucks to the net, make it real challenging on the opposition, the guy that can defend and knows how to use his body and his stick to defend against elite players because most of the time he is playing against the other team's top personnel. He looked anxious to get back. I think he probably wanted to get back prior to the break, but this was on the safer side and we're good to go."
Rookie forward Pavel Buchnevich will also be back in the lineup after missing 27 games with a back injury. Buchnevich was recalled after playing three games with Hartford of the American Hockey League.
Buchnevich has eight points in 10 games this season. He has missed a total of 33 games with back problems.
"We won't play him for a while in back-to-back situations, so he's going to play tonight but he won't play [Saturday at the Montreal Canadiens]," Vigneault said. "The docs want to be on the prudent side there, but I feel like with everything he's gone through, the daily work he's getting with our conditioning staff and medical staff that it should not be an issue."