But Friday's aches turned into Saturday's glory as Nylander and his linemates rebounded from a dismal performance and turned the tables on the high-flying Carolina Hurricanes.
Nylander had a goal and three assists, and Jaromir Jagr set up three goals to lead the Rangers to a 4-3 victory over the Hurricanes on Saturday that gave New York a home-and-home split.
"I felt good this morning," Nylander said. "It was fun and it worked out well."
Carolina lost for just the second time in 13 games and had a five-game road-winning streak snapped. Eric Staal, Niklas Nordgren and Justin Williams scored for the banged-up Hurricanes (14-4-1), who rallied late with two goals.
"With a team like that, that's that hardworking and that well coached you know that they're going to continue to come at you," said Rangers goalie Kevin Weekes, who made 28 saves. "We were trying to stem the tide, we didn't want to give them any opportunity to get back in."
New York went 3-for-5 with the man advantage after not netting a power-play goal in eight straight chances. They were 2-for-18 in the previous three games and lost the last two to finish the longest trip of the season 3-2.
"I thought they worked a lot harder," Carolina defenseman Mike Commodore said. "Their puck pressure, right from the first faceoff, they were on us right away. I don't think they had that when we were playing in Raleigh."
The top line of Jagr, Nylander and Straka made up for a rough night in Carolina on Thursday to pace the Rangers' sixth home win in 10 games. The trio recorded just one point -- a goal in the 5-1 loss -- and were a minus-8, but they combined for a goal and six assists in the rematch.
"We scored on chances we got. That was the key," Nylander said. "It was important to come back and show that we could play a good game."
Straka gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead just 4:14 in by squeezing a shot in between Martin Gerber's left leg and the right post after taking a pass from Jagr.
But Staal, who injured his back in Thursday's victory, showed no effects when he stole the puck in the Carolina zone and raced up ice on a 2-on-1 with Erik Cole. Staal let the puck go from the left circle to tie it 1-1 at 10:34 of the first period.
Staal went sliding headfirst into the end boards but got up to celebrate his 14th goal of the season in his 100th NHL game.
Hurricanes defenseman Aaron Ward also reached a milestone by playing in his 500th game, but he had nothing to celebrate.
Already playing with an ankle injury, Ward added to his woes. Nylander fired a shot that bounced off Gerber, and Ward rushed toward the goal. But instead of steering the puck out of harm's way, he pushed it into the net to give New York a 2-1 lead with 4:38 left in the period.
He was also called for roughing in the second period and then got shaken up while delivering a check.
The Hurricanes couldn't afford more injuries as they were without Niclas Wallin (wrist), Rod Brind'Amour (groin), Glen Wesley (groin), and Josef Vasicek (knee). Erik Cole was gone for the third period after taking a shot in the foot.
"Guys showed up and played hard a couple of nights ago and guys showed up and played hard tonight," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. "It's frustrating and disappointing not to get a win."
The Hurricanes' deficit grew to 3-1 when Jagr and Nylander set up Prucha's fourth goal, scored on a power play at 9:22 of the second period.
Jagr and Nylander hooked up again during another power play in the third, getting Rozsival his first with the Rangers at 9:10.
Nordgren cut Carolina's deficit to 4-2 at 11:47 and Williams made it a one-goal game with 1:26 left.
- Rangers D Fedor Fedorov cleared waivers and was assigned to Hartford of the AHL.
- Jason Strudwick, scratched the previous six games, was in the New York lineup in place of injured D Fedor Tyutin. Tyutin is day to day due to a non-displaced fracture of his left ring finger, an injury sustained Thursday.
- Carolina, 1-for-6 on the power play, has at least one man-advantage goal in nine of 10 games.
- Rangers LW Chad Wiseman was recalled from Hartford but didn't play.