SAN JOSE, Calif. - A Halloween horror show arrived early for the Rangers in the Shark Tank on Tuesday.
Rick Nash was felled by an elbow to the head from defenseman Brad Stuart at 2:32 of the first period of a 9-2 blowout late Tuesday night, and played just 5:53 total, with one shot. The Rangers did not specify the nature of the injury, and he could have been kept out as a precaution.
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Nash, leaving the arena, said he has a headache, which worsened as the game went on. "He got me right across here," he said, pointing to right cheek. "Always concerned when you get a head shot."
Nash suffered post-concussion symptoms Feb. 12 when a check from behind by Boston's Milan Lucic rammed his head into the glass. The 6-4 Nash, who played two games, but was on injured reserve for the next four, led the team in goals with 21 in the lockout-shortened season.
But even with a healthy Nash, the Rangers would have been steamrolled Tuesday night. The defense withered under a relentless attack by the undefeated Sharks, who previously dominated Vancouver and Phoenix, chased Henrik Lundqvist and led 6-1 before the end of the third period. Derek Dorsett scored in the third to make it 6-2 and Brian Boyle took exception to a Stuart play seconds later and received a four-minute penalty.
Tomas Hertl scored four goals, including two in the third period.
Brad Richards scored his third goal of the season on a five-on-three power play at 3:27 of the first, but the Sharks responded with a tying goal by Marc-Edouard Vlasic 56 seconds later and stormed on from there. Boyle scored at 7:56 for a 2-1 San Jose lead.
In the second, Matt Nieto and Hertl scored in a 63-second span, and Lundqvist was lifted for Martin Biron, who allowed goals to Logan Couture after a bad bounce behind the net, and another from Hertl on a breakaway. The Sharks had outshot the Rangers 47-20.
Losing Nash, who had three points in two games and looked sharp at both ends of the ice, for any length of time would be costlier than any lopsided defeat.
The Rangers (1-2) travel to Anaheim on Thursday and St. Louis on Saturday to close out this trip. They have just one extra forward on the roster, Swedish rookie Jesper Fast, because the front office opted to send J.T. Miller to get more minutes in Hartford.
Miller scored twice and had an assist in his first game with the Wolfpack and could be summoned.
But Miller, 20, or prospect Chris Kreider, don't have the pedigree of Nash, who was obtained from Columbus two summers ago.
The injury to Nash, who has scored 30 or more goals seven times en route to a total of 310, came after a vintage performance, with 10 shots, two assists, two takeaways and three blocked shots in the 3-1 victory in Los Angeles on Monday.
"What I liked about his game was the turnovers he was able to create," coach Alain Vigneault said. "the amount of time that that line spent in the other team's end, wearing the Ds down."