Rick Nash returned to practice Monday afternoon at the MSG Training Center, informing head coach Alain Vigneault on ice that he is "good to go" when the Rangers host the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Nash had not skated since wrenching his back during practice last Thursday in Denver. He sat out the team's victories in Colorado and Arizona over the weekend before returning to practice on Monday, assuming his usual spot to the left of Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello.
"Everything felt good out there," Nash told reporters after practice. "Each day it got better, each day there was progress. We did double treatments every day. Hopefully if everything goes good tonight I'll be playing (Tuesday)."
Without Nash, who scored a career-high 42 goals last season, the Rangers still were able to defeat the Avalanche 2-1 on Friday and the Coyotes 4-1 on Saturday, running their current winning streak to five consecutive games.
"I just feel the whole team as a group is just clicking right now," observed Nash.
Emerson Etem filled in capably for Nash while the star forward was sidelined, and Vigneault said on Monday that he had not decided if Etem will remain in the lineup on Tuesday should Nash be able to play. After making his first three appearances as a Ranger on the fourth line, Etem impressed in a top-six role over the weekend, playing 28 minutes combined in the two games.
"There are only so many spots open, so many positions, different roles, and as a coach you have to put players in those roles," stated Vigneault. "I did like Etem in those two games he played...but with Nasher looking like he'll play we'll have to sort out the rest of the lineup."