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Rangers’ Rick Nash reflects on missed opportunity in Game 2

After two heart-breaking losses in Ottawa, the Rangers look to get back into their second-round Eastern Conference playoff series with the Ottawa Senators.  On May 1, 2017 after practice, the Rangers talked about what they need to do get their first win of this series at Madison Square Garden in Game 3 on Tuesday. (Credit: Patrick McCarthy)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — In overtime in Game 2, Rick Nash came out from behind the right post and had Senators goalie Craig Anderson out of position. Nash had the puck — and the game — on his stick. But as he tried to shoot, Ottawa forward Kyle Turris got his stick blade down and deflected the puck wide.

The Senators went on to win, 6-5, early in the second overtime in Ottawa on Saturday, and Nash was asked Monday if he had replayed the scene in his mind.

“Only a thousand times,” he said with a grin. “Not too much. I mean, it happened so fast. I’ve got to go backhand to forehand, and when I moved it, his stick was just there.”

After practice, Nash — who skated on a line with Derek Stepan and rookie Jimmy Vesey — said having Sunday away from the rink was a blessing.

“It was a pretty emotional game, an emotional loss, too,” he said, “so to have an extra day to kind of get better physically, and mentally as well, is huge.”

Nash’s two goals, three points and all-around play, driving the net and killing penalties, helped lift the Rangers past Montreal in six games in the first round. He has only one assist against Ottawa, but in eight playoff games, Nash has 30 shots, third among playoff teams behind Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (34) and St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko (32).

“We’ve had opportunities to win both games. We just haven’t been able to close the job,” said Nash, who must contribute if the Rangers are to climb past the Senators, who hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

For a player who has scored at least 40 goals three times and at least 30 five other times in 14 seasons, Nash had earned a reputation for not producing enough in the playoffs. He had only five goals in his first 41 games, in one postseason with Columbus and his first two with the Rangers. Since then, he has nine in the last 32 games, all with the Blueshirts.

“He got an opportunity to win us the game Saturday but had Turris put his stick there,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “I think Rick’s working extremely hard. We’ve made some adjustments on the power play and penalty kill. The PK last game was good, and on the power play, people will look at stats and say they were 0-for-3, but we scored two goals when their guy was stepping on the ice [out of the penalty box].”

The immediate task is to score a few on Anderson, said Nash, who collected 23 goals in 67 games this season. “He’s a big goalie,’’ he said. “We’re trying to get bodies in front of him, but we’ve also got to do a bit better job in front of our net, boxing out and with forwards coming down and taking [opponents’] sticks” to limit deflections.

Said Vigneault: “So far, they’ve made one more defensive play, one more offensive play in each game. That’s why they’re up 2-0. We need to be the team that needs to make those.”

Trying to keep Karlsson in check. The coaching staff, Vig neault said, is trying to limit elite defenseman Erik Karlsson “as much as you can limit him . . . In the first five minutes alone [Saturday], he came up the ice three times. He beat our forecheck . . . We’ve got to try to slow him down, impede his way a little bit, finish a check when we have the opportunity. He’s evasive. Guys like that are smart. They don’t usually put themselves in bad positions.” Karlsson is playing with two hairline fractures in his right heel and did not practice Monday.

New York Sports