PITTSBURGH — Rick Nash, tied for the team lead with 13 goals, missed Tuesday’s game and could be sidelined for at least two more with a groin strain on the opposite side of one he incurred in Brooklyn on Dec. 6.
“He won’t play these next two and then we come back from Christmas break [Dec. 27] and it’s just a morning skate, so it’s safe to say at this time that he probably won’t play the next three games. After that, it’s day to day,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.
So Nash, 32, will be out for Friday’s home game against the Wild, and presumably for the Dec. 27 match against the Senators. The Rangers won’t practice during the NHL holiday break from Dec. 24-26. Vigneault generally doesn’t dress injured players without one full practice.
The groin strain, Vigneault said, “is probably [due to] compensation and the lovely schedule we’ve had. He hurt it right at the start of the overtime [Sunday against the Devils].”
Zibanejad, Buchnevich still rehabbing injuries
Don’t expect injured forwards Mika Zibanejad or Pavel Buchnevich back before the team’s league-mandated five-day break Jan. 8-12.
Zibanejad, who broke his left fibula in an awkward fall against the end boards against Florida on Nov. 20, remains on target to return in mid-January. Buchnevich, the rookie Russian left wing who has played just 10 games due to back problems, is still rehabbing off ice and is finally expected to begin skating more regularly this week, a source said.
Pirri returns to lineup
Brandon Pirri (6-6-12) returned after being scratched for two games. “It looked like he had some real good jump and a good release this morning,” Vigneault said. “I’m hoping that will be there on the power play; he was effective for us in finding the right seams and getting that shot through.”
Vigneault’s hopes went unfulfilled. Pirri had two shots on goal, two shots blocked and the power play was 0-for-3.
The Rangers chased the play all night and the shot attempts were in favor of the Pens by a wide margin. The Rangers had 28 shots on goal, 12 attempts blocked and six misses for a total of 46. The Penguins had 47 shots on goal, nine attempts blocked and 15 misses for 71 . . . In the third period, the Rangers folded, with just four shots on goal . . . Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes had zero shots on goal . . . Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh played a poor 22:32. “He’s a great defenseman. Makes three bad decisions in the third . . . ,” Vigneault said. “That’s the way it is.”