Rick Nash had two goals in the final 5:09 of regulation last night, scoring the tiebreaker on an impossible-angle shot from behind the goal line and adding a breakaway goal with 1:12 left, as the Blue Jackets beat the Rangers, 3-1.
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The first flub left Henrik Lundqvist gazing in frustration at the scoreboard for the replay, but give Jackets captain Nash, who set a team record by playing in his 544th game, all the credit for his second goal. He deked Lundqvist badly and went forehand and backhand for the clincher.
"The last one I might as well stay on the bench," Lundqvist said. "I didn't know where the net was or anything. He made me look pretty stupid there. Tough way to end the game."
For the Rangers, however, the crusher was Nash's first.
"I hugged the post as hard as I could, but when you put your pad there, there will always be a little hole," Lundqvist said. "I could feel it hit my skate. It's hard to be positive right now. That goal hurt us. I always stand like that. Maybe I can put my stick there, but it's a very awkward position."
The Rangers (17-13-1) split the two-game road trip and are 11-5 away from Madison Square Garden, where they are 6-8-1. The Rangers host the Capitals tonight in their eighth back-to-back set of the season. The Rangers are 7-0 in the second game of back-to-backs.
"It was probably one of our better games in the past few weeks. I thought some guys that hadn't been playing well played really well tonight," coach John Tortorella said. "[Michael] Del Zotto, [Alex] Frolov, [Artem] Anisimov, everybody contributed. We played our -- off. It's a tough way to lose on that type of goal."
The Rangers fired 33 shots at Steve Mason, who allowed very few rebounds.
As for Nash, who also had an assist on the goal that tied the score at 1, Tortorella said: "We stuffed him the whole night until he scores from behind the goal line. It's frustrating, I'll admit that. To come up empty with an effort like that, you've got to move by it."
After a scoreless, physical first period, the teams traded power-play goals in the second. With Andrew Murray off for tripping Sean Avery, Marc Staal finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play at 9:53. Brandon Dubinsky found Ruslan Fedotenko behind the net and the winger found Staal, cheating down into the left circle.
It was Staal's fifth goal of the season and marked the eighth game in the last 11 that the Rangers scored with a man advantage.
But with Erik Christensen off for slashing the stick of Murray in the Rangers' zone, Antoine Vermette got the shaft of his stick on R.J Umberger's shot while in front with Ryan Callahan defending him. The puck changed direction and went under Lundqvist at 15:43. Nash, who had a goal and two assists in his previous two games after registering only an assist in the seven before that, received the secondary assist.
From then on, a second goal for the Rangers proved elusive. So did the chance to extend the franchise record for the best road mark out of the gate.