NEW YORK -- Rick Nash
again gave the New York Rangers
exactly what they hoped when they acquired him in the offseason, as he scored two third-period goals to help them to their third straight win.
But the 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers
on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden included a play no one wanted to see.
In between Nash's two goals that led the Rangers to their sixth straight win at home over the rival Flyers came a scary play, with Rangers defenseman Marc Staal
getting struck in the face by the puck.
So while the Rangers (11-8-2) spoke glowingly of Nash's recent hot streak and their improved play, the celebration was tempered by concern for Staal.
He exited at 5:45 of the third period after a puck deflected by Philadelphia forward Jakub Voracek
struck him in the area of his right eye. Staal covered his face, blood dripping to the ice, for several moments before he was helped off to the trainer's room.
"It's tough; you never want to see that," said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan, who had two goals and an assist. "Especially close to the eye. It's dangerous and it's tough to watch."
Rangers coach John Tortorella said he had no updates on Staal after the game but echoed many players' comments by saying soberly, "it's scary."
The Rangers were already without forward Brad Richards, who crashed headfirst into the boards after a brutal hit by Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta on Sunday. Richards had returned a few minutes later but was declared out shortly before Tuesday's game.
Nash led New York past the Flyers (11-12-1) in the third period and over them in the Atlantic Division standings. Voracek remained hot for the Flyers with his seventh goal in his last seven games as well as an assist, giving him 17 points in his past nine games.
But Nash, who watched the Rangers go 0-4 while he was out with an injury for four games, has returned to lead them to three straight victories, scoring four goals and six points in that span. New York, which had struggled on the power play for most of the season, scored twice with a man advantage for the second straight game.
"I just started smiling after he scored the second goal. It just feels so good to have a player like that on the team that can be the difference every night," said Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who made 23 saves. "We have a lot of guys that can step up, but he just brings it to another level."
The Flyers had hoped to start reaching another level after picking up back-to-back wins behind the red-hot Voracek. They entered the third period tied 2-2 in an evenly played game. But Philadelphia again succumbed to its rivals, dropping its 10th game against them in the last 11 meetings.
"It was about who was going to make the mistake first and we made it," Voracek said. "They scored a goal and another one, and it's so hard to come back."
Wayne Simmonds scored his ninth goal of the season and had an assist for the Flyers, who scored both their goals on the power play.
Nash put the Rangers up 3-2 early in the third period, snapping it past goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
at 2:50. Nash took an outlet pass from Dan Girardi after a kick save by Lundqvist and streaked up the right wing on a three-on-two rush. He took it himself, snapping the puck under Bryzgalov's blocker.
Nash later scored on the power play to make it 4-2, taking a feed from Derek Stepan and making a nice deke on Bryzgalov before slipping in a backhand shot at 11:42 to stir the Garden crowd.
"That's my job; that's what I'm trying to do," Nash, who joined the Rangers after nine seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, said of sparking the home crowd. "These fans are great."
The most action the rest of the way came when Flyers forward Scott Hartnell spilled into the Rangers' bench and got into a dust-up with just under three minutes left. Though it didn't appear fresh Rangers call-up Micheal Haley did anything but cover up, Hartnell apparently thought he hit him, so Hartnell swiped at Haley. Stu Bickel responded with his own swipe from the Rangers' bench, leading to 10-minute misconduct penalties for Hartnell and Bickel.
"I got hit, so I hit back," Hartnell said. "The ref said we got a power play right away, so I left the scrum ... They must have changed their mind when they got together. I don't know."
The Rangers stunned the Flyers with two goals by Callahan at the beginning and end of the first period, as the teams went into the first intermission tied 2-2.
Twenty-two seconds after a holding penalty on Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen, Callahan knocked in a wrist shot to Bryzgalov's left, with assists from Stepan and Marian Gaborik. That gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 1:30 of the first.
The Flyers responded with two straight power-play goals of their own, with Simmonds and Voracek scoring to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
Callahan tied the score 2-2 with 40 seconds left in the first on a nifty pair of dekes, getting Bryzgalov committed to his right before poking it to the goalie's left.
NOTES: Richards participated briefly in the morning skate before bowing out. Tortorella said only that he was "banged up." ... Haley, the former New York Islanders center known for mixing it up, was called up from AHL affiliate Connecticut. ... Flyers forward Harry Zolnierczyk served the first of his four-game suspension for his hit Saturday on the Ottawa Senators' Mike Lundin that caused a concussion. ... The Flyers called up left winger Eric Wellwood from AHL affiliate Adirondack.
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