After two top games, Rick Nash leaves after taking elbow to head
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SAN JOSE, Calif. - When Rick Nash plays like the power forward he has been in his world-class career, he is most noticeable on one-on-one plays, creating Grade-A scoring opportunities with his size and skill.
Or losing the puck on the way to the net.
"If it doesn't work, is it going to be an offensive chance for them? Sometimes I make bad decisions, but that's my thinking process," Nash said after the Rangers beat the Kings, 3-1, Monday night at Staples Center. The 6-4 winger attempted a team-high 10 shots -- six stopped by Jonathan Quick -- just missed an empty-netter at the horn, and was credited with two assists.
Voted the game's first star, Nash made few bad decisions and hoped to continue rolling as the Rangers (1-1) faced the Sharks Tuesday night in the third game of this five-game western swing.
But the roll came to a screeching halt. Nash, who missed four games last season with what was believed to be aftereffects of a concussion, left Tuesday night's game at 2:32 of the first period after an elbow to the head from Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart.
Stuart received a two-minute minor penalty on the play. The Rangers did not provide any details on Nash, other than to say during the first intermission that he would not return to the game.
Nash has had better times against the Sharks. In his career against San Jose with Columbus, Nash had 17 goals in 33 games.
Regarding the victory over the Kings, Nash said: "We established a forecheck. I thought in the Phoenix game [a 4-1 loss], we were just sitting back and let them take it to us, that was the biggest difference."
Nash, who has had 30 or more goals seven times and more than 40 twice en route to a total of 310, provided an all-around performance with two takeaways and three blocked shots.
"Yeah, he was pretty good," Vigneault said, chuckling. "What I liked about his game was the turnovers he was able to create; the amount of time that that line spent in the other team's end, wearing the Ds down, and when they lost the puck, they were quick to get on their horse and come back and help our defense."'
Nash's linemates were center Derek Stepan, who missed all of training camp and six preseason games, and former center Brad Richards, playing his second consecutive game on left wing.
"The second game helps," said Nash, 29, who is beginning his first full season in New York. "The longer we play together, the better chemistry we'll have."
Richards, who scored twice, once on a rebound of Nash's wrister from the slot, seemed more comfortable in his new role. "It takes time," Nash said. "It would be tough for me to switch to center."
Nash, who is as low-key off the ice as any Ranger, had his first fight in three years Thursday, dropping the gloves with Martin Hanzal after the Coyotes forward delivered a huge hit on Stepan late in the third period.
"Just sticking up for a teammate," he said.