Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rangers Give Their Best Shot

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rangers Give Their Best Shot

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - Rick Nash looked comfortable in his return to the Rangers' lineup after a 17-game absence due to a concussion.

And with Nash back on the top line, the Rangers looked in control for most of the game Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Still, it was an opportunity lost as the Bruins prevailed, 2-1, despite the Rangers outshooting them, 44-22, including Nash's five shots in 17:55. It was the teams' first meeting since the Bruins eliminated the Rangers from the Eastern Conference semifinals in five games.

"It's always tough games against this team," said Nash, who skated on Brad Richards' left wing along with Ryan Callahan. "I'm just worried about getting back and helping the Rangers, no matter who the opponent is."

The Rangers (10-11-0), about to embark on a five-game road trip that starts Thursday at Dallas, now have lost two straight for the first time since late October, despite a second straight strong outing from Henrik Lundqvist and Chris Kreider doing everything but scoring.

But Tuukka Rask was better for the Bruins (14-6-1) - and luckier.

Anton Stralman's third-period slap shot went off the left post at 9:48. But Rask got his blocker on Kreider's breakaway at 1:54 of the third, just as he stopped Kreider's first-period penalty shot.

The Rangers' five-game playoff loss to the Bruins hastened John Tortorella's firing. The fiery ex-coach's replacement, Alain Vigneault, knows the Rangers can't start thinking about the postseason just yet given their winning percentage.

"Twenty-five percent of our season has already flown by and we're playing .500 hockey," Vigneault said prior to the game. "There has been improvement, but .500 hockey is not going to get us into the playoffs."

Nash's return obviously helps. The 6-foot-4 power forward was cleared to play Sunday and told Vigneault he was ready during a phone call on Monday's scheduled day off. …

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