BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan became the fourth NHL player to score three goals in a debut.
Stepan, a second-round draft pick in 2008, scored once in the first period and twice in the second on Saturday night against Buffalo's Ryan Miller - last season's winner of the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie.
He scored 10:53 into the game, then added a pair of goals 3:12 apart in the second. The hat trick was completed with 1:40 remaining in the period and gave the Rangers a 4-1 lead.
Stepan is the first player to record a hat trick in his NHL debut since Dallas' Fabian Brunnstrom on Oct. 15, 2008. Real Cloutier of Quebec did in 1979, and Montreal's Alex Smart accomplished the feat first in 1943.
Stepan also became the second Rangers player to score three times in a season opener, joining Ron Murphy (1955).