The Coyotes forward played 9:33, took one shot on goal, delivered one hit and won his only face-off in Arizona’s 4-3 loss at the New York Rangers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Beyond the stats, Samuelsson played his first NHL game with his dad, Ulf, watching from behind the Rangers bench; he’s an assistant coach for New York in charge of defense. His mom was there, too, watching from her seat in the arena's lower bowl.
"I was a little nervous in the first period but I felt like as the game went along I started to play a little better and better," Samuelsson told Todd Walsh of FOX Sports Arizona after the team’s practice on Friday. "Hopefully I can build off that for the next game."
That next game is Saturday vs. the Bruins at TD Garden in Boston.
Samuelsson played on Arizona’s fourth line in Thursday’s game with center Joe Vitale and winger Lauri Korpikoski.
"I thought he was fine," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "First game, there’s lots of emotion running around through a young player’s mind. I thought he jumped in and did a solid job for us."
|Ulf and Henrik Samuelsson. Photo by Rebecca Taylor. |
Samuelsson, whom the Coyotes selected with the 27th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, said having a veteran center such as Vitale to play alongside in his first game was a big plus.
"He was great," Samuelsson said. "He’s always been a great guy to me and was really supportive with me yesterday. He talked a lot to me on the bench telling me to calm down and enjoy it."
Regarding his dad, Samuelsson met with him after the game for a brief celebration. Before the game, however, there was no such exchange.
"I think he tried to wave at me (during warm-ups), but I was just minding my business and got focused for the game," Henrik said with a laugh.
Tippett said Samuelsson has shown improvement all season for the Portland Pirates in the American Hockey League.
"He's progressing nicely down there," Tippett said. "In their last 10 games, he's been their leading scorer so he's doing a lot of things we've asked him to try to do. He's earned his opportunity."
• Forward Mark Arcobello is set to play in his 100th NHL game on Saturday.
Arcobello will enter the game having scored 17 NHL goals, with five of those coming in his first seven games with the Coyotes since joining the team via the waiver wire two weeks ago.
While Arcobello is pleased with his offensive output, he knows there are other aspects of the game he also needs to do well.
"I have to make better decisions in my own end and win more puck battles," Arcobello said. "… Scoring goals is one thing, but I’ve got to be better at keeping the puck out of my own end."
• Goalie Mike Smith would like to see the Coyotes stop making the same mistakes in games.
"We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot," Smith said after the team’s 4-3 loss to the Rangers on Thursday night. "...We constantly turned pucks over. Against good teams, you're going to get it jammed right back down your throat."