The Rangers scored three times in the third period of Friday's 3-1 win over the Blue Jackets.
There was much hype surrounding Nash's first game as a visitor at Nationwide Arena, but the contest also had playoff implications.
With the win, the Rangers moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division, two points ahead of Columbus and one behind second-place Philadelphia. The Blue Jackets, however, have played one fewer game.
Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves for New York, which has won three of its last four games.
Sergei Bobrovsky turned away 29 shots in the Blue Jackets' third loss in five games.
Already showered with boos, Nash, who was selected first overall by Columbus in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft and dealt to the Rangers in July 2012, stoked the fans' ire even more late in the second period.
The former face of the Blue Jackets drove hard to the crease and the puck went into the net after a collision with Bobrovsky at 17:06. The referee immediately waved off the goal, ruling Nash made incidental contact with the Columbus goalie.
Nash then got to his feet and incited a melee by punching Bobrovsky.
Seeking retribution for him going after Bobrovsky, Matt Calvert engaged in fisticuffs with Nash at the start of the third period.
One minute after the fight, the Blue Jackets ended the scoreless stalemate.
New York responded 44 seconds later on a goal from Derek Stepan. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh went around the Columbus net and fed Stepan for a shot between the circles that tied the game at 1:56.
Former Blue Jacket Derick Brassard banked a wraparound at the left post in off Bobrovsky for the go-ahead goal at 11:31.
An empty-net goal by Carl Hagelin sealed the win with 38.7 seconds remaining.
The Rangers had a 14-9 shot advantage and frittered away a 5-on-3 power play that lasted 29 seconds in the first period.