NEW YORK -- It was the Rangers that tried to add some toughness to their lineup, recalling rugged veteran Arron Asham and returning the gritty Derek Dorsett, but it was Nashville’s fourth line that did the heavy lifting Tuesday night. Both Matt Hendricks and Richard Clune finished the night with a goal and an assist, as the feisty duo gave the Preds a much-needed spark to snap a five-game losing streak and down the Rangers 4-1 at Madison Square Garden.
Rick Nash notched his sixth goal of the season, but that was it in an otherwise pretty feeble effort against fill-in netminder Carter Hutton. The Rangers, who were beat Sunday night by a backup netminder as well – Capitals rookie Philipp Grubauer -- have now lost three straight.
Considering how livid he has been with his complacent club as of late, coach Alain Vigneault won’t be a happy camper after this one.
On second thought: The hard-edged Hendricks was a player the Rangers identified as a potential target before free agency last summer. Suffice it to say, they could use his snarl right now.
Another big one: Two games after losing defenseman Marc Staal to a concussion, the Rangers saw Ryan Callahan exit the game with a sprained knee. Callahan, who has battled both shoulder and thumb injuries already this season, did not return to the game and it is not immediately clear how long he is expected to miss. Callahan started the game on a newly-configured line, with Brad Richards at left wing and Brian Boyle at center.
Still Struggling: So much for a good start. After an emotional Vigneault blasted his team’s effort for what seemed like the umpteenth time, the Rangers surrendered two goals in the first period to the Nashville Predators, who entered the game 12th in the Western Conference. After Nick Spaling's goal at 13:45, Hendricks made a pretty pass to Clune who scored on a quick backhander with 2:08 to play for a 2-0 Nashville lead.
Concussion confirmed: Earlier in the day, the Rangers confirmed that Staal sustained a concussion Saturday night after a hard hit from New Jersey’s Reid Boucher during the third period of the team’s 4-3 overtime loss. There is no timetable for Staal’s return, though the Rangers said they do not believe it to be as serious as the one that sidelined him for 36 games in 2011-12.