- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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NEW YORK -- Surrounded by Columbus jerseys, Rick Nash played Monday like the Rick Nash who constantly made the highlight reels with the Blue Jackets.
The Rangers' forward scored a season-high two goals against his former team in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Blue Jackets on Monday night at Madison Square Garden. Nash, who was stymied in the shootout, hopes his outburst can galvanize him moving forward.
"Hopefully it is," Nash said of this game igniting him. "It would have been nice to get that other point. To lose it in the shootout is disappointing. We got to come out better and can't keep making mistakes that end up in the back of our net."
It's been a disappointing year for Nash, who missed 17 games with a concussion. He entered Monday's game against his former team with just seven goals and nine assists in 26 games. Nash starred for the Blue Jackets from 2002-12 before being acquired by the Rangers prior to the 2012-13 season.
Monday, Nash started to show flashes of the player that can single handedly dominate games. With the Rangers on the power play trailing 1-0 in the first, Nash rifled a laser to the upper corner of the net past Sergei Bobrovsky to tie the game with 53 seconds in the period. It marked his eighth goal.
In the third, with the Rangers down 3-2, Nash once again scored on the power play to even game up with 13:05 left. It marked Nash's first two-goal game since he notched a pair against the Devils in the 2013 regular-season finale on April 27. Nash said scoring two goals against his former team didn't resonate with him, and added that it's different to play against the Blue Jackets.
"It means something if we beat them," Nash said. "It doesn't matter if I score."
Nash had a chance to do even more damage in the shootout, but was unable to get one past Bobrovsky with the Rangers trailing 1-0 in shots. Ryan Johansen beat Henrik Lundqvist on the next shot to win the game for Columbus. Nash finished with five shots in 19:28 of ice time.
"It was a good stretch by him. Move worked for me in the past," Nash said. "I couldn't get it up high enough, but give him credit, he made a pretty nice stretch."
If the Rangers are going to secure a playoff spot, they're going to need more of these type of performances from Nash. The Rangers don't have anyone else on their roster that can carry a team like Nash, and he hasn't been able to do it for the most part this season. Over the past five games, he now has four points, giving the Rangers hope that their star is finally finding his groove.
"The difference between tonight and some of the other games I've seen is he was able to finish. He's had some grade-A chances, some real solid games with [Derek Stepan] and [Chris Kreider] as far as spending time in the opposition, trying to get inside, getting quality chances," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "For whatever reason he's having a tough time putting it in. Tonight he got two; hopefully that gets him in the direction we need him to go because we need our top players to be on top of their game and contribute."
Coming off his best game, Nash now awaits the decision Tuesday of whether he was selected by Team Canada for the Olympics.
"It's obviously in the back of your mind. I can't really control much now," Nash said. "It's out of my hands and it happens then great. If not, we'll move on."