BRUINS (39-26-8) at RANGERS (41-24-8)
TV: 8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1
NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Rick Nash will play against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday after skipping practice Tuesday because of soreness.
It will be Nash's seventh game since returning to the lineup after missing 20 games because of a bone bruise in his left leg. He scored his first goal since returning in a 4-2 win against the Florida Panthers on Monday.
The problem for Nash, though, is he has had one practice and a handful of morning skates since returning. He said he feels he needs more practice time to accelerate his level of play, specifically when it comes to his timing and his hands, to what it was pre-injury. He won't get a lot of it if he continues to feel sore the morning after games.
"I really want to get into practices and find the hands," Nash said. "It's been frustrating but at some point I have to rest if it feels sore."
The good news for Nash is he is coming off his best game since returning to the lineup. Not only was his goal against Florida the game-winner, he had a handful of outstanding scoring chances that he created for himself. He didn't get a shot off on many of them because his hands were too slow.
"I felt like I was around the puck a bit more, getting on the inside a lot more," Nash said. "There's still times in the games when I think my timing and hands can be better. But eight weeks is a long time to be totally off the ice."
The Rangers could use a productive Nash. They have a two-point lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division and can increase that lead with the Penguins not playing Wednesday.
The Bruins are third in the Atlantic Division with 86 points, three behind the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. They're also three points ahead of the fourth-place Detroit Red Wings.
Nash compared his eight-week injury hiatus to having two summer breaks.
"In summer break I don't even take eight weeks off then," he said. "Maybe there are three weeks of down time or four weeks before you skate again. It's the first time in my career I've been off for eight weeks. I have nothing to compare it to. It's a totally new feeling and it's tough."
The Bruins come into Madison Square Garden for the finale of a four-game road trip. They lost the first three games in regulation to the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. However, they felt they played well enough to get some points, at least three and maybe even four, defenseman Torey Krug said.
The Bruins lost by one goal against the Sharks and Kings. They were beaten 4-0 by the Ducks despite owning a 38-26 edge in shots on goal.
"I don't think we were dominated at all," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Even that 4-0 game, I think the goaltending was the difference in that game and their goaltender was just outstanding. We had a chance in every one of those games. The only negative is we didn't come up with the win."
That they didn't, or even get a point in any of them, only increases the value of the two points up for grabs against the Rangers.
Here are the projected lineups:
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Lee Stempniak
Loui Eriksson - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey - Ryan Spooner - Jimmy Hayes
Landon Ferraro - Noel Acciari - Frank Vatrano
Zdeno Chara - Kevan Miller
John-Michael Liles - Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Injured: Chris Kelly (femur)
Scratched: Joe Morrow, Tyler Randell, Brett Connolly, Zach Trotman
J.T. Miller - Derek Stepan - Mats Zuccarello
Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Jesper Fast
Chris Kreider - Eric Staal - Oscar Lindberg
Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Viktor Stalberg
Ryan McDonagh - Kevin Klein
Marc Staal - Dan Boyle
Keith Yandle - Dan Girardi
Injured: Dylan McIlrath (knee)
Scratched: Kevin Hayes
Status report: With Rask healthy enough to start, goalie Jeremy Smith was returned to Providence of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. … Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he had one lineup decision to make after the pregame warm-up. It's likely that he'll choose between Hayes and Lindberg, who has been scratched the past four games. Hayes and Lindberg were the only players besides Nash and Raanta who skated in full equipment Wednesday morning. It was considered an "extras" skate.
Who's hot: Klein has two goals and four assists, including two against the Panthers, in the past five games.