WASHINGTON - Rick Nash's primary job for the Rangers is scoring goals. By that measure, he has been a flop in the playoffs, with one in eight games after 42 in 79 regular-season games.
But give the big guy credit for not allowing that to turn him into a one-dimensional sulker.
In Monday night's 1-0 loss to the Capitals in Game 3 of this second-round series, Nash was as active as any Ranger. He had a game-high seven shots on goal, 15 total shots and two hits, one on which he hammered the Capitals' big defenseman, Brooks Orpik, into the boards.
"I felt good, but it's still frustrating we didn't put up any offense," said Nash, who said afterward he just missed high to the blocker side on one play in which he shot while falling.
After the morning skate before Game 3, Nash was answering the customary questions about his lack of playoff goal-scoring when someone asked about a contribution that went unrecorded in the boxscore in Game 2 -- an inquiry that brought a smile to his face.
It was about how he effectively got in the way of Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, allowing a shot from the point by Dan Boyle to find its way into the net.
"Sometimes those things go unnoticed, for sure, so thanks for noticing that," he said. "I appreciate the positive."
One could argue that gushing about Nash's role on defense and as the "net-front" man on the power play could be interpreted as damning with faint praise.
But Nash is serious about his all-around game, which includes planting his 6-4, 220-pound frame in front of the net, a role the similarly sized Chris Kreider also fills.
"Especially on the power play, that's my job, to take his eyes away," Nash said. "I think when you have a goalie as good as Holtby, those are the things you have to do to score goals . . . It's my first year doing it; I have a new respect for guys like [Tomas] Holmstrom and [Patric] Hornqvist, guys who've made careers out of net-front. It's a hard thing to do."
Nash also has sought to do his part on defense. "You always try to be good defensively first, and hopefully the offense comes from that," he said. "I think no matter what kind of player you are, you always have to worry about your own end first."
That's all nice, but with the Caps' primary offensive weapon, Alex Ovechkin, putting on a show in the first two games, Rangers fans were waiting for their guy to show his stuff.
It's not as if Nash has been completely quiet. His 32 shots on goal lead the team in the playoffs, and he has four assists.
When a reporter noted how sunny Nash's disposition seemed to be, he said: "I've been through this before. The negative doesn't get you anywhere and I feel like the negative comes from [the outside]. In here, we're positive."