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Rangers’ Rick Nash plays in 999th NHL game

Rick Nash of the Rangers tries to bring

Rick Nash of the Rangers tries to bring the puck to the net against Justin Braun of the Sharks at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 23, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Rick Nash skated in his 999th NHL game Monday against the San Jose Sharks. About 300 players have played 1,000 or more, a group he expects to join Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes.

“It’s a pretty cool achievement,” said Nash, 33, who broke in with the Columbus Blue Jackets 15 years ago and has 417 goals and 355 assists in his career. With the Rangers, Nash has 128 goals and 225 points in 325 games.

“I can remember my first game like it was yesterday, going out to the rink,” Nash recalled after a morning skate at the Garden. He was 18, and the first overall pick in the entry draft. “It goes fast, it flies by. I always remember as a kid playing on the street taking slap shots by myself or playing with other kids.”

In that first game, against Chicago at home on Oct. 10, 2002, Nash said with a grin, “I scored a goal, against Jocelyn Thibault, played with Kevin Dineen, and Phil Housley was with the Hawks.”

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault remembers Nash from those early years in Columbus. “He was a powerful power forward, like he’s doing now with us: Overpower the player he’s up against in the corner, take that puck to the net, make somebody haul him down or get a great look,’’ he said. “He’s always been an effective player at both ends, but obviously a true goal-scorer.’’

Power outage in second

Vigneault said the power play that moved the puck and had some opportunities in the first period disintegrated in the second. “Our execution, especially on the breakouts, went away. It was not nearly good enough,” he said.

Defenseman Tony DeAngelo, brought in as the seventh defenseman to work on the second power-play unit, played 6:01 with the man advantage. He had no shots, nor did Mats Zuccarello or Jesper Fast.

Blue notes

The Rangers are 2-4-2 at home . . . Pavel Buchnevich was credited with the assist on Mika Zibanejad’s goal and had five shots on goal. He has a point in four of his last eight games . . . All four Sharks goals (on 24 shots) were at even strength as Henrik Lundqvist’s record dropped to 2-4-2.

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