PITTSBURGH - Before Sunday night's 3-0 Game 2 loss to the Penguins, the Rangers' Rick Nash, who had 26 goals in the regular season but hadn't scored in 12 postseason games, admitted he was frustrated.
"We need a big night tonight," he said. "We know how important it is to go back home with two wins."
Instead, it was an unlucky 13th without a goal for Nash, who had three shots in 15:30 of ice time. "It's close, but this time of year, close doesn't really matter," he had said. "We need to be finishing our opportunities."
Stralman doesn't help
Anton Stralman, inserted at the point in an effort to create some offense on the power play, didn't have a shot on goal in 3:43. During the season, he had only one goal (on Feb. 4 against Colorado) and 12 assists.
Kreider 'looking better'
Chris Kreider, who had surgery on his left hand on March 28, is "looking better," said Alain Vigneault, who did not rule out his return in this series. "I don't know,'' he said. "We'll find out."
The left wing, wearing a non-contact jersey, joined the team at the end of practice for the second day, stickhandling and attempting some soft shots. Kreider had 17 goals, six on the power play, during the season.
Vigneault clearly was unhappy with Derek Dorsett's boarding infraction against Chris Kunitz at 15:08 of the third period with the Rangers trailing 1-0. Jussi Jokinen scored at 16:30. "That penalty at the end obviously hurt us," he said . . . In their history, the Penguins are 10-3 at home in the playoffs against the Rangers . . . The Rangers are 8-8 in best-of-seven playoff series when they split the first two games on the road . . . Henrik Lundqvist appeared in his 76th career playoff game, tying Mike Richter for the franchise record . . . The Penguins' Sidney Crosby played a dynamic 20 minutes, with 10 shot attempts and some high-quality passes.That's not what I'm going to do. You don't have to overthink it. It's about getting the puck to the net, having bodies in front and making life tough on the goalie."
In the morning skate, Stralman, who had two assists in the seven-game Flyers series, practiced on the point with Dan Girardi in place of John Moore, with forwards Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis.
"He brings a one-timer from that side," Nash said of Stralman. "That way we have two one-timers. He has a good shot."
Stralman had one goal (Feb. 4 against Colorado) and 12 assists during the season. He played just 22:28 with the man advantage, spread out over 38 games.
But in nine games in the second half, he was on ice for fewer than 15 seconds, when he was sent out just before the teams reverted to even strength.
"Anton obviously does a good job for us on breakouts and is able to find open lanes in the offensive zone. He's a good player," Vigneault said. "He's had some looks offensively in different games."
Kreider getting closer
Chris Kreider, who had surgery on his left hand March 28, is "looking better," Vigneault said, and did not rule out his return in this series. The left wing, wearing a non-contact jersey, joined the team at the end of practice for the second day, stickhandling and attempting some soft shots. Kreider has 17 goals, including six on the power play.
Spare goaltender David LeNeveu, 30, who appeared in 22 games for the Hartford Wolf Pack, with a 12-8 record, a 2.46 GAA and .915 save percentage, is traveling with the team.