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Rick Nash's two third-period goals beat Flyers

Rick Nash of the Rangers celebrates after scoring

Rick Nash of the Rangers celebrates after scoring one of his two third-period goals against the Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL game at Madison Square Garden. (March 5, 2013) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Rick Nash has saved his best for last this season.

All of the Rangers right wing's seven goals, including the two beauties that broke a 2-2 tie with the Flyers Tuesday night, have come in the third period.

"Be nice to get them early, but when they're not coming in bunches, you take them any way you can get 'em," Nash said after the Rangers' 4-2 win. "And I'm not worried about when they come."

Nash took over the game in the final 20 minutes when he collected Dan Girardi's pass off the boards and scored at 2:50, beating Ilya Bryzgalov under his stick arm from the right circle. Then he finished a two-on-one with Derek Stepan by zipping around Bryzgalov for a sweet backhander at 11:42. Since Nash returned after missing four games with injuries, he has four goals and two assists.

"My theory is usually just get him the puck and let him do his thing," Girardi said. "I just chip the puck off the wall and he goes down and scores. It's an easy game that way. He's a game-breaker. That's why you have to trade away a lot of guys to get a player like that."

With their third straight win, the Rangers (11-8-2, 24 points) jumped ahead of the Flyers (11-12-1, 23) for eighth place in the East and have three games in hand. The Flyers have lost six in a row at the Garden.

While Nash was the closer, Ryan Callahan starred in the first period with two bookend goals, his sixth and seventh. The Flyers scored twice in between on three power-play opportunities and the period ended 2-2.

Callahan made it 1-0 with a power-play goal at 1:30, converting Stepan's cross-ice pass at the right post over Bryzgalov's glove. The power play, which was 1-for-10 with Nash sidelined, is 4-for-9 since his return.

Stu Bickel's elbow of Jakub Voracek put the Rangers down a man at 6:58. Twenty seconds later, a passing gem from Voracek to Claude Giroux to Wayne Simmonds for a tap-in tied it.

Nash pulled down Voracek from behind at 12:33, and the Rangers killed that disadvantage, but on a hooking call that Callahan disputed, the Flyers struck again. Voracek was left alone while three Rangers watched one side of the zone, and he potted his own rebound at 17:07.

Callahan responded at 19:19 when he swept across the crease from the left boards and tucked the puck past Bryzgalov. No one scored in the second period, as Henrik Lundqvist, who finished with 23 saves, preserved the tie.

With Brad Richards sidelined for the first time this season, Stepan (two assists) centered Nash and Carl Hagelin. Rookie J.T. Miller, 19, started at center between Callahan and Marian Gaborik after playing wing for several games. But as John Tortorella said, "Nash ignites us."

"He's calling for the puck all game," Ryan McDonagh said. "You see he's got confidence in his linemates to make plays, give it up, get it back. He's just doing it all over the ice."

New York Sports