Leo Komarov tried. So did Cody Franson. So did Mark Fraser.
All had some success as they attempted to slow the freight train that is Rick Nash, a player theoretically even more at ease in Manhattan now that so many of his former Blue Jacket teammates have joined him.
But Nash wouldn’t be stopped, not totally, scoring two goals for the New York Rangers on Monday night as that club desperately tries to scratch and claw its way into the Stanley Cup playoffs after being a conference finalist last spring.
Still, the Rangers lost for the first time in regulation since Marian Gaborik left town, dropping a 4-3 decision to the Maple Leafs, and there was a good reason why it turned out that way.
The Leafs may have struggled to contain Nash.
But the Blueshirts had no answer whatsoever for Toronto’s top-line of Tyler Bozak between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk.
That unit delivered three goals and six scoring points, delivering the type of offensive performance that despite the overall success of the team, hasn’t been a consistent element for Randy Carlyle’s group this season.
“I thought our line had more chances tonight because we had more in-zone time,” said Bozak. “We weren’t just trying to score off the rush. When we do try to do everything off the rush, we might turn it over and miss the net, and then we’re tired on defence and get hemmed in.
“Tonight was more like the way we want to do it.”
Van Riemsdyk continued to emerge from a slump with his 16th goal, while Kessel broke out of a nine-game goal-less period with a pair of goals, including the game-winner after New York had fought back from a 3-1 deficit.