- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
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NEW YORK, NY – The Rangers may be interested in acquiring star forward Rick Nash, but a contingent of fans at Madison Square Garden Sunday night clearly feel otherwise.
The crowd taunted the Blue Jackets captain with taunts of “We don’t want you!” after the 27-year-old winger tallied the tying goal with 1:33 left in regulation to force the game in overtime.
After the game, Nash laughed off the razzing and seemed unfazed by the fans' serenade.
“I mean, that’s the reception you’re going to get in any building if you score in the last minute to tie it up on the road," Nash answered good-naturedly. “It was an exciting game and it was a tough one. We were lucky to get one point.”
Ultimately, Garden faithful went home happy after Derek Stepan notched the game-winner 22 seconds into the overtime for the 3-2 win. But they may need to change their tune soon.
The Rangers are perceived by many to be the front-runners of the handful of teams pursuing Nash, who was reportedly made available by Columbus earlier this week, largely because of the assets they could provide with top prospects like Chris Kreider, Tim Erixon, J.T. Miller and Dylan McIlrath.
Any deal to bring Nash to Broadway is expected to come at a hefty price tag – some reports indicated Brandon Dubinsky, Kreider and a first-round draft pick, if not more – but the Rangers have legitimate interest in the 27-year-old winger.
Multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun that the Rangers, Kings, Leafs and Flyers have all had discussions with Columbus this past week regarding Nash.
Columbus General Manager Scott Howson was in attendance for Sunday’s match – he watched the game with assistant GM Chris MacFarland from his seat in the auxiliary press box – but it is unclear whether he sat down with Rangers GM Glen Sather while in New York.
Swarmed by reporters in a pre-game gathering, Nash politely sidestepped questions regarding his status with the team.
The former first overall draft pick, who has spent his entire career with Columbus, offered a “no comment” when asked whether he could envision playing in New York and whether the Rangers were on his list of acceptable teams to which he would waive his no-movement clause and accept a trade.
Before the game, Nash conceded that all the trade talk has been a distraction for the downtrodden Blue Jackets, but said he is keeping his focus.
"I just worry about today. Right now, I'm a Blue Jacket and that's what matters," Nash said. "I've played my whole career here and I'm dealing with a game I have to play in two hours, so that's all I'm worrying about."
After the game, Nash was complimentary of the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers, who improved to 38-14-5 with the overtime victory.
“They’re a very good team,” Nash said. “You can see why they’re in first place.”
4dPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald