GREENBURGH, N.Y. - In the playoffs, Rick Nash has been facing the music more than a season subscriber at Carnegie Hall.
Nash, who leads the NHL playoffs with 52 shots but hasn't scored in 14 games, answered questions about the drought again a day before the Rangers would meet the Canadiens in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday in Montreal.
"The team's success is the main thing," Nash said. "We're here to win games. Me scoring can help that; I've definitely been frustrated . . . Overdue? I'd definitely say overdue."
It is a mystifying stretch for Nash, who last scored April 10 against Buffalo, and he did not find the net in the regular-season finale at Bell Centre, where the Rangers will play the next two games. Of his 366 career goals, primarily with Columbus, only three have come against Montreal.
"The chances are coming here and there," he said. "My defensive game's been solid, I've been focusing on that a bit, but I need to start scoring."
Nash netted 26 goals in 65 games this season, but 17 of them came against teams who did not make the playoffs. In the postseason, coach Alain Vigneault said, Nash has been playing an all-around game, but his shots aren't crossing the line.
Against the Penguins, Nash had 21 shots on goal, 10 hits, an assist and on the downside, seven giveaways.
"In the playoffs, there's more physicality; the demands to finish your checks and wear down the opposition are high, and I think players look for ways to contribute," Vigneault said, discussing how Nash, who is 6-4 and 215 pounds, is using his size. "Yes, everybody knows he was brought in to help us on the offensive side, but if you're getting looks and it's not going in, you've got to find other ways to contribute, and he has. He's playing real hard, been very good on our penalty-killing and he's finding ways to be a very effective player.
"Every game, we analyze the scoring chances, he's our top player. For some reason, he's in a little bit of a funk right now as far as finding ways to put the puck in the net, but the looks are there. We all believe, and I hope he believes the same thing, that as soon as one goes in, more are going to go in."
Nash said he isn't altering his style.
"I'm trying to make plays, hold on to pucks, doing everything I can to create some offense," he said. "I'm trying every night to score goals, put the puck in the back of the net, but it's a bigger picture than me struggling. It's a team trying to win a championship. There's a bunch of little pieces that go into that . . . I'm doing anything I can to win games."
To be sure, Nash is not dwelling, at least publicly, on the negative.
"I thought our PK's been great, Hank's been world-class," he said. "There's definitely been some positives. We've won both series, that's a positive."
Notes & quotes:Martin St. Louis was not at practice, having flown to Montreal for the wake of his mother, France, who died May 8. The team will attend her funeral Sunday . . . Friday night's Game 7 in the West will determine the day of Game 4 of this series. If Anaheim wins, Game 4 would be Saturday, May 24, at 8 p.m. in New York. If Los Angeles wins, Game 4 would be Sunday, May 25, at 8 p.m.