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Rick Nash ‘going into the tough areas,’ and it’s paying off

New York Rangers right wing Rick Nash skates

New York Rangers right wing Rick Nash skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period of an NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

In his first 11 games last season, Rick Nash had only one goal.

In last night’s 5-3 win over the Oilers, a transformed Nash scored his sixth goal, swatting in a rebound with 1:21 to go for what proved to be the winner.

“There’s no doubt that he’s got a jump to his game right now, stepping out of the corners to go in front,” Rangers coach Alain Vig neault said. “Tonight he was one of our strongest two-way players. There’s no doubt that he’s going into the tough areas . . . That’s how we scored that goal, that’s how [Michael] Grabner scored his goal, that’s how Haysie [Kevin Hayes] got on that rebound. If you want to score in this league, you have to go in the tough areas.”

Nash played 18:50 and led the team with five shots and eight attempts. “I think we stuck with it,” he said. “It shows a lot when you go down three times and come back every time.”

Good call by Vigneault

In a key move that ended up being the right call, Vigneault shortened his bench in the second period, sitting Jimmy Vesey (team-lows in shifts with 14 and ice time with 10:49), Mika Zibanejad (12:42) and Chris Kreider (13:13) as the Rangers, essentially using nine forwards, rebounded from a 3-2 deficit.

“It came to a point with about seven minutes left in the second where I thought I needed to shorten the bench a little bit,’’ Vigneault said, “and I felt the nine forwards I used had a bit more jump and execution. I really thought for us it wasn’t our best game, but I thought it was a character win.”

Lundqvist allows three

One game after his 35-save shutout of the Blues, Henrik Lundqvist allowed three goals and finished with only 21 saves.

“The first 10 minutes of the game,” he said, “I thought the Oilers were the better team.”

At 8:49 of the third period, on the same shift in which he took a shot off the mask, Lundqvist allowed Adam Larsson’s low shot though his pads that gave the visitors a 3-2 lead.

“I thought once we had that third one, we were going to close it out, but they’re a resilient team,” Oilers goalie Cam Talbot said. “We gave them too many opportunities in front of the net and they made us pay.”

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