Nash, Rangers try to stay hot vs. Sens

11:01 AM, Mar 8, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - New York has seen a fair share of clutch players come through its city.

In his first season in the Big Apple, Rick Nash is quickly joining those ranks.

Nash looks to extend his goal-scoring streak and help New York win a fifth straight game on Friday night as the Rangers host the Ottawa Senators in the latter portion of games on back-to-back nights.

New York dropped a season-worst four straight (0-3-1) from Feb. 19-26, with Nash missing all four of those games due to injury. The 28-year-old forward has been on fire since his return, scoring in all four games with five goals in that span.

Not surprisingly, the Rangers have won all four to post their longest winning streak of the season and Nash was clutch again on Thursday night against the New York Islanders.

The big winger scored a game-tying goal with 5:23 left in regulation and then assisted on Marian Gaborik's power-play goal 42 seconds into overtime for a 2-1 win. Nash now has 13 points in the past eight games he has played in and the first-year Ranger leads New York with 20 points.

Even more impressive is that all eight of Nash's goals this season have come in the third period.

"The great part about Nash right now is his third periods are his best period. That's a good sign for conditioning. He's been a huge part to our club here. As advertised, he's been a game-breaker for us here. Hopefully it will continue," said Rangers coach John Tortorella.

"I think he has a mindset that he respects the responsibility. He doesn't say crap, doesn't speak, he just goes out and plays."

Nash set up Gaborik's first goal in nine games, while Derek Stepan added two assists and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27-of-28 shots faced.

Roman Hamrlik made his Rangers debut after being claimed off waivers from the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. He replaced Marc Staal, who is out indefinitely after being struck in the right eye by a puck in Tuesday's win over Philadelphia. Brad Richards also missed his second straight game due to a sore neck and back stemming from an illegal hit by Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta on Sunday.

However, the Rangers still won for just the third time in eight road games this season and are looking to win five straight for the first time since Dec. 30-Jan. 10 of last season. They are 9-4-1 at home in 2013.

New York will try for the same discipline tonight as it finishes off its third set of back-to-back games this season and first since Jan. 23-24. The Rangers have lost the second game in both of those back-to-back sets.

They also haven't had any recent success at home versus the Senators, who have won their last five trips to Madison Square Garden and haven't lost there since Oct. 3, 2009. They have won three straight and five of their last six overall versus the Blueshirts, including a 3-2 shootout win at home on Feb. 21.

That victory was part of a five-game road trip for the Senators, but they have gone 0-2-2 since, with all four losses coming on the road. They conclude their five-game swing with this game and now sit at just 3-7-2 as the guest this season.

Ottawa found itself down 3-0 early against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday and couldn't rally despite scoring three goals in the third period, dropping a 5-4 decision.

Daniel Alfredsson scored with 7:52 to play and Colin Greening made it a one- goal game with less than two minutes to go. Zack Smith added a goal and an assist, while Mika Zibanejad also lit the lamp.

"We played good at the end there, but the hole we had dug ourselves was too deep," said Alfredsson. "They were getting a lot of pressure on us early and by the time we figured it out we were down by three goals."

Ben Bishop gave up all five goals on 28 shots in the loss as No. 1 netminder Craig Anderson remains out with a sprained right ankle that was sustained versus the Rangers.

Robin Lehner will get the start for the Sens on Friday, his third of the season and 13th of his career. He has given up four goals on 81 shots in a pair of post-regulation losses this season.

The Sports Network

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