Video: Nash’s 30th goal comes on shorthanded breakaway

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Rick Nash became the second player this season to reach the 30-goal mark and he did so in style.

With his New York Rangers trailing 1-0 and down a man near the midway point of the first period, Nash claimed the puck in the Rangers zone and took off on the breakaway opportunity. As the Panthers’ skaters played catch up, Nash outmaneuvered Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo:

He’s the first Ranger to net at least 30 goals and four shorthanded markers in the same season since Theo Fleury did it in 2000-01, per the Rangers’ Twitter feed.

This is Nash’s eighth 30-goal season, but it’s the first time he’s reached that milestone in a Rangers’ uniform. His first campaign with them was the 48-game lockout shortened season and he struggled in 2013-14 with 26 goals and 39 points in 65 contests.

Related:

Ovechkin becomes fifth player to start career with 10 straight 30+ goal seasons

Three reasons the Rangers could be deadline players

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1. Everybody’s already discussing it. Brough alluded to the Rangers’ interest in welcoming Mike Santorelli to the trade rumor mill, and over the weekend all the local rags — Post, Daily News and Record — had some variation of the same story, playing off this quote from head coach Alain Vigneault:

“If we can improve ourselves and become a better team, we’re gonna do that. We’re no different than any other team now. But so far, I’ve liked the way our team has progressed. I’ve liked how certain individuals have progressed.

“We’ve got a little bit of time here to sort things out, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”

The talk, primarily, is about strengthening New York’s center position, specifically the third-line role currently filled by rookie Kevin Hayes. Depth down the middle has been an issue for this club this season, especially after losing Brad Richards and Brian Boyle during the summer, though it’s fair to suggest the Rangers could be primed to do more than add a bottom-six center. Why? Because…

2. GM Glen Sather has a history of big deadline deals. Last year Slats co-orchestrated the Martin St. Louis-for-Ryan Callahan blockbuster, which continued in his string of significant moves; the year prior, he flipped Marian Gaborik to Columbus for a trio of players that included Derick Brassard, and also acquired Ryane Clowe from San Jose.

Sather also has a few assets to deal. Teams looking to acquire young defensemen might look the way of Brady Skjei or Dylan McIlrath (though it’s tough to gauge the latter’s market value, given he’s yet to establish himself at the NHL level.)

3. The Rangers are in go-for-it mode. The window is now, and it’s open. The reigning Eastern Conference champs are probably more aware than anyone that the east is up for grabs; last season, the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Final despite heading into the playoffs as the “five” seed (Boston, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Montreal all finished with more points) and parity appears to be almost equal this season.

So, who are the Blueshirts going to target?

One would have to think Coyotes center Antoine Vermette is at the top of their wist list. He’d be an ideal addition down the middle and would have some chemistry with Brassard and Rick Nash, his former Blue Jackets teammates (from 2009-12). The Vermette bidding war is expected to be high, however, and the Rangers are at a disadvantage without a first-round pick at the ’15 Entry draft, sent to Tampa Bay in the St. Louis deal.

David Legwand could be another name to keep an eye on. The veteran center seems to have fallen out of favor with new Ottawa head coach Dave Cameron, and Sens GM Bryan Murray admitted Legwand could be on the move. At 34, Legwand has the veteran experience Vigneault likes; Vigneault would also be familiar with the ex-Predator from his coaching days in Vancouver (most notably the ’11 playoffs, when the Canucks ousted Nashville in Round 2.)

Get your game notes: Habs at Rangers

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New York Rangers hosting the Montreal Canadiens at 7 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

TOP STORYLINES

• Two Original Six teams clash: MTL and NYR will play the rubber game of their 3-game season series tonight at MSG.

• Oct. 25, 2014 at Bell Centre – MTL def. NYR 3-1 – (Carey Price – 34 saves, Max Pacioretty 1G-1A).

• Nov. 23, 2014 at MSG – NYR def. MTL 5-0 (MTL backup Dustin Tokarski played in place of Price).

• These two teams faced off in the Eastern Conference Final last season (NYR won series 4-2).

• Eastern Conference Outlook: MTL and NYR are both secure in the top 8 in the East standings, as there is a 7-point gap between the 2nd Wild Card (BOS) and 9th-place (FLA).

• Within the top 8, things are much more bunched.

• Montreal sits 3rd in the Atlantic, but is just 2 points behind division-leading DET with 2 games in hand.

• The Rangers are the 1st Wild Card currently, but have at least 2 games in hand on all 3 teams in the Metro above them in the standings.

• Scorching Habs: Montreal enters on a 3-game win streak and owns a 13-3-1 record in its last 17 games.

• Last game: MTL def. DAL 3-2 – this was the first game out of the All-Star Break for MTL. The Habs won despite getting outshot 42-26. Carey Price made 40 saves.

• Rangers Rolling: The Rangers lead the NHL in wins since December 8 with 16, and while New York is and impressive 16-4-0 since then, they are also 3-3-0 in their last 6 games.

• Last game: NYI def. NYR 4-1 – this was the first game out of the All-Star Break for the Rangers. NYR had a 3-game win streak snapped and remained winless against the Isles this season in 3 games (0-3-0 record).

• NYR begins a 4-game homestand tonight (also vs. CAR, BOS, FLA). NYR is 6-1-0 in its last 7 home gms.

MONTREAL TEAM/PLAYER NOTES• Max Pacioretty set a career high last season with 39 goals – that ranked him 4th in the NHL.• Pacioretty is on pace for another 35+ goal season with 21 through 46 games.• Alex Galchenyuk scored a highlight-reel goal vs. DAL to extend his goal streak to 3 games (3G-1A). He has never scored a goal in 4 straight games.• Galchenyuk, the 3rd overall pick in the 2012 draft, matched his career high with 13 goals, and has set a new career high with 32 points this season.• P.K. Subban is also riding a 3-game point streak (2G-2A) after an assist vs. DAL. His next point will be the 200th of his career.NEW YORK TEAM/PLAYER NOTES• Rick Nash leads the Rangers in goals with 28. He is tied with Tyler Seguin (DAL) for 2nd in the NHL, 1 goal behind league-leader Alex Ovechkin.• No Ranger has led the NHL in goals in a season since Lynn Patrick in 1941-42.• The 30-year-old Nash has already surpassed his goal and point totals from a season ago – in 20 fewer games.• His career high is 41 goals, set in 2003-04 (2nd NHL season, w/ CBJ). He is on pace for over 50 this season.• He has just 2 points (both goals) in the last 6 games.• Derek Stepan was held without a point vs. NYI, but he has 5 points (2G-3A) in his last 4 games.• He is 4th on the team in points (32) despite playing in just 32 of the team’s 45 games this season. Stepan missed the first 12 games of the season recovering from a fractured fibula suffered in training camp.• Ryan McDonagh was a Canadiens 1st round draft choice (12th overall) in 2007. However, he never played an NHL game for the Habs, as he was traded to NYR in the 2009 offseason in the deal that brought Scott Gomez to MTL.• McDonagh only has 1 point in his last 9 games.• Career vs. MTL: While he only has 1 point in 14 career regular season games vs. MTL, last postseason McDonagh led NYR over MTL in the Eastern Conference Final with 10 points (2G-8A) in the 6-game series.• Dominic Moore played for MTL in 2009-10. Last season with NYR, Moore scored the only goal in the Rangers’ 1-0 Game 6 shutout victory in the Eastern Conference Final to eliminate the Habs and advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Video: Ovi opens scoring vs. Pens, now tied for NHL goals lead

It didn’t take long for Alexander Ovechkin to draw first blood on Rivalry Night.

The Washington captain opened the scoring against Pittsburgh less than eight minutes into the first period, tipping home a Karl Alzner shot to give the Caps a 1-0 lead:

The goal was Ovechkin’s 28th of the year, drawing him even with Dallas’ Tyler Seguin and New York Rangers forward Rick Nash for the NHL lead. The two-time reigning Rocket Richard winner, Ovi has captured the goalscoring race in four of the last seven seasons and now looks primed to challenge for his fifth career title.

Get your game notes: Lightning at Hurricanes

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Carolina Hurricanes hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

TOP STORYLINES

• TB’s All-Stars were Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, and Jonathan Drouin (rookie selection).

• Stamkos had 2G, 1A for Team Foligno on Sunday.

• Johnson did not participate in either Saturday or Sunday’s activities due to a lower body injury.

• Drouin won the fastest skater competition as a member of Team Foligno, with a time of 13.103 seconds.

• CAR’s only All-Star was Justin Faulk.

• Faulk had 2 assists in the win for Team Toews.

TAMPA BAY FIRST-HALF REVIEW

• TB begins play after the All-Star Break as the Atlantic Division leader, the top team in the East, and the NHL’s highest scoring team (3.21 goals/gm).

• The Lightning enter on a 3-game win streak, and are 6-3-0 overall in January.

• Last Game: TB def. VAN 4-1 last Tuesday. This marked the Lightning’s 8th straight home victory.

• With 64 points, the Bolts are off to the best 48-game start in the 22-season history of the franchise.

• TB trails league-leading ANA (68 pts) by 4 points; the Lightning have never won the President’s Trophy.

CAROLINA FIRST-HALF REVIEW

• The Hurricanes enter in last place in the Metropolitan Division (37 pts). Only BUF (31 pts) and EDM (33 pts) have fewer points in the NHL this season (AZ also has 37 pts).

• However, the Canes’ play has improved in 2015. CAR enters on a 2-game win streak, and the team has a 6-2-1 record overall in January.

• Last game: CAR def. TOR 4-1 last Monday.

• The win vs. TOR capped off a 2-0-0 Ontario road trip (also beat OTT 3-2) – the first time CAR has won back-to-back road games this season.

• TB injury woes: The Lightning have injuries to key players currently, especially on the blue line…

• D Matt Carle (torn abdominal muscles) had surgery last week and was expected to miss 6-8 weeks.

• Carle leads the team in blocked shots (74) and ranks 3rd in TOI/G (20:34) in 46 games this season.

• D Radko Gudas (knee) was expected to miss 4 months at the time of his arthroscopic knee surgery at the beginning of January.

• Despite playing in just 31 games, Gudas leads TB in hits (115), and is 2nd in blocked shots (63).

• F Tyler Johnson (lower-body) did not participate in the skills competition or the All-Star Game, and though he practiced Monday, is still considered day-to-day.

• Johnson leads TB in assists (31) and points (48) and is 2nd in the NHL with a +26 rating this season.

TAMPA BAY TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Steven Stamkos had an assist in TB’s most recent game – a 4-1 win vs. VAN last Tuesday.

• With 26 goals this season, Stamkos trails league-leaders Tyler Seguin and Rick Nash (28 goals) by just two. Alex Ovechkin is 3rd in the NHL with 27 goals this season.

• The Lightning captain is a two-time winner of the Maurice Richard Trophy (NHL leading goal-scorer); he captured the title in 2010 (tied w/ Sidney Crosby) and in 2012 by himself.

• Career vs. CAR: 24 points (12G-12A) in 31 career games.

• Ryan Callahan, who signed a 6-year/$34.8 million contract extension with TB this summer through 2019-20, is on pace for a career season points-wise with 35 points in 43 games played so far.

• Callahan set his career-high with 54 points (29G-25A) in 2011-12 with the New York Rangers.

• He has 5 points (3G-2A) in his last 6 games.

• Alex Killorn scored twice against VAN for the first 2-goal game of his career.

• Nikita Kucherov is t-2nd on the team in goals (17), but he has gone 9 straight games without a goal (0G-6A).

• Kucherov leads the NHL with a +28 rating this season.

• Ben Bishop has started all 3 games during the Lightning’s win streak (3-0-0 record, 1.62 GAA, .951 SV%), and he ranks t-4th in the NHL with 24 wins this season. He has great numbers all-time vs. the Hurricanes…

• Career vs. CAR: 5-0-0 record, 1.19 GAA, .967 SV%, 2 SO.

CAROLINA TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Jordan Staal missed the first 35 games of CAR’s season (fractured fibula). The team’s offense — and overall record — has been much improved with him in the lineup this season.

• Jordan had 2 assists in the win vs. TOR, and he has 6 points (1G-5A) in 10 games overall since his return.

• Eric Staal has benefitted from Jordan’s return – he has 8 goals in the 11 games since Jordan returned on Dec. 29 (8G-1A). The two have been playing on the top line together.

• Eric had 2 goals – both assisted by his brother Jordan – in the game vs. TOR.

• Career vs. TB: 67 points (31G-36A) in 63 career games. The 31 goals are his most vs. any NHL opponent.

• Khudobin stealing the show: While veteran Cam Ward has started 31 of the team’s 46 games this season, Anton Khudobin is the hot goalie for Carolina of late.

• Ward has won just 3 of his past 14 starts (3-9-2 record, 2.42 GAA, .910 SV%) dating back to Dec. 7.