Many people had high expectations for New York Rangers rookie Derek Stepan. In his first NHL game on Saturday night, he exceeded them all.
Against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, Stepan became the fourth player in NHL history (and the first since 2008) to notch a hat trick in his first NHL game, The New York Times reports.
The 20-year-old center was credited for one goal in the first period and two more in the second period, as the Rangers went on to defeat Buffalo 6-3.
“To me, it was just getting my feet wet in my first NHL game,” Stepan told The New York Times. “It was a fun process. It was nerve-racking too, a little bit. But I settled in and played pretty well.”
Stepan almost had a fourth goal during a break-away in the third period, but his shot sailed over the net.
The rookie had one last chance for another goal when Buffalo pulled goalie Ryan Miller late in the third, but his shot toward the empty net hit the goal post. Brandon Dubinsky later got the empty-netter, his second goal of the night.
Stepan played on the third line with Sean Avery, who got two assists, and Ruslan Fedotenko.
“He’s got good conditioning, and he sees the ice well,” Avery told the Times. “It’s funny because he’s not the fastest guy in the world. He’s just deceptive and makes good plays with the puck.”