Rangers-Blue Jackets Preview

Rick Nash is enjoying his best season since demanding a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets 2 1/2 years ago and is set to face his former team tied for the NHL lead in goals.

Adding to that total could help the New York Rangers snap out of their scoring funk.

Nash will make his third trip to Columbus since the trade Friday night with both clubs looking to end their respective skids.

The Rangers (24-13-4) had won 13 of 14 before back-to-back 3-0 defeats – the first coming at home Tuesday against the New York Islanders before they kicked off a three-game trip with Thursday’s loss in Boston.

Nash scored three of his 26 goals over the four games prior to the losing streak. His next will mark a high since he forced a trade to the Rangers after not scoring fewer than 27 in his last eight seasons with the Blue Jackets.

He has three goals in four games against his former team, including one in the first meeting this season, though the Rangers lost 5-2 on the road Oct. 11.

"I think anytime it goes two games (without a goal), no matter what the score might be, I think we ought to get back to the basic, back to simple hockey, the way we were playing when we were winning," Nash said.

The Blue Jackets (18-20-3) are having their own troubles, dropping three in a row after winning four of the previous five. They led Montreal 2-0 with roughly 8 1/2 minutes left Wednesday before allowing the Canadiens to score the game’s final three goals.

"It’s just disappointing," coach Todd Richards said. "This one bothers me, the way that we found a way to lose this one."

Two of Montreal’s goals came on the power play, including the winner with Brandon Dubinsky in the box for boarding. The Blue Jackets have been shorthanded at least four times in each of their last seven and are one of the most penalized teams in the league.

"No one can point fingers at anyone but myself," Dubinsky said. "It was just a stupid penalty. It was the wrong time of the game. It wasn’t my intention to put the team shorthanded, but we’ve got to know better. I’ve got to know better. I’ve got to hold myself accountable.

"The goal before that, it’s a faceoff in our zone. Eleven seconds left (in the penalty). I’ve got to win the draw, too."

Sergei Bobrovsky lost this third straight start, falling to 3-5-1 with a 3.73 goals-against average since Dec. 18. He made 24 saves to beat the Rangers in the first meeting and could be in goal again to oppose Henrik Lundqvist.

Cam Talbot, who started against the Blue Jackets in October, was in net Thursday. Lundqvist got the night off after going 11-2-0 with a 1.72 GAA since Dec. 8. He’s 2-1-0 with a 1.68 GAA in three career starts in Columbus.

New York’s top-line center Derek Stepan sat out against Boston because of an upper-body injury suffered against the Islanders. He traveled with the team, though, leaving his status up in the air for this contest.

The Blue Jackets placed forward Jack Skille on injured reserve Thursday with a lower-body injury. He’s expected to miss two weeks.