Rangers head to Ottawa without Nash to battle Sens

The New York Rangers acquired Rick Nash this past offseason in an effort to boost their offense and certainly missed the big forward in their most recent loss on Tuesday.

The Rangers will be without Nash again on Thursday night when they pay a visit to an Ottawa Senators team that is looking for a third straight win.

Nash, a two-time 40-goal scorer, was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets on July 23 for three players and a first-round pick in the 2013 draft. He has reached at least 30 goals in each of his last five seasons, but has gotten his Rangers career off to a bit of a slow start with just three goals and 12 points in 14 games.

Still, the 28-year-old was missed in Tuesday's 3-1 setback to the Montreal Canadiens, a loss that snapped New York's five-game point streak (4-0-1). It is unknown what sort of injury that Nash is dealing with, though reports and speculation narrow it to either a concussion or groin injury.

Nash did not travel to Ottawa and the Rangers are hopeful he can join the club in Montreal on Saturday.

"Of course we miss him, but it is what it is," said forward Marian Gaborik on Wednesday. "Whoever's out there will just have to take it to another level. I don't know how long he's going to be out, but we just have to find a way to play without him."

Rookie Chris Kreider replaced Nash on a line with Brad Richards and captain Ryan Callahan versus the Canadiens, while New York also played without forward Darroll Powe due to a concussion he suffered on Sunday versus Washington.

Defenseman Anton Stralman had the lone goal against the Habs and Henrik Lundqvist was charged with two goals on 17 shots faced.

"They shut the neutral zone down really good tonight," said New York defenseman Marc Staal. "And when we were able to get into their zone they limited our lanes and we couldn't get a lot of good opportunities."

Ottawa is looking to go on a run after opening the month of February with losses in six of eight games. The Senators are coming off a shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on Monday and a 3-1 victory versus the New York Islanders the following day.

Craig Anderson made 37 saves and Colin Greening scored for Ottawa.

"It's really important to get these wins when we're at home," said Greening. "We had a good plan going out there tonight and everyone stuck to it."

Dave Dziurzynski and Andre Benoit both added the first goal of their NHL careers, while defenseman Eric Gryba notched an assist for his first ever point in his third game.

That was a big boost for a club that is missing a ton of offense due to injury as Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson and Milan Michalek are all out. Spezza and Karlsson are out long-term, while Michalek has missed the past four games with a lower body injury.

The Senators have won four of their last five against the Rangers and snapped a six-game slide at home against the club with a 4-1 win on March 8, 2012 in the most recent encounter.