When Jayson Megna woke up Monday morning, he was playing in the American Hockey League. When he laid his head down to go to sleep Tuesday night, he had just had a two-point night skating alongside Derek Stepan and Rick Nash after a 6-2 Rangers win over one of the National Hockey League's elite teams.
"That was really special," Megna said after scoring a goal and an assist against the Dallas Stars in his Rangers debut Tuesday night at The Garden. "Those were two great players I played with tonight. Obviously they helped out a lot. They were talking to me the whole game and being very supportive. It was a cool thing to be able to do."
Center - NYR
Goals: 1 | Assists: 1 | Pts: 2
Shots: 3 | +/-: 1
The 25-year-old Megna was recalled by the Rangers Monday evening, and replaced injured forward Chris Kreider in the lineup. He made the most of it, becoming the first Ranger to pick up at least a goal and an assist in his Rangers debut since Derick Brassard and Ryane Clowe both did it April 3, 2013 against Pittsburgh.
The Stepan line was effective all night at all situations. Nash finished the night with three assists while Stepan had a pair of goals, including the team's first shorthanded goal of the season in the third period.
"I think our whole line played extremely well," Stepan said. "You can't overlook Rick Nash's play and Jayson's play. It's why we had success tonight. We worked hard and we were able to create some chances."
The prettiest goal of the night came late in the third period, when Megna and Nash broke in 2-on-1. Megna fed Nash, who threw a pass back across the slot for Megna, who reacted quick and redirected the puck off the post and into the net.
"It was really my only play," said Nash, who skated in his 900th NHL game. "The pass, I couldn't shoot it because the d-man put his stick right out and was kind of blocking it, so it was — I think [the pass] went through his skates. I was pretty lucky."
The chemistry appeared to be instaneous, as the trio clicked for the Rangers' first goal just 1:56 into the contest on Stepan's seventh of the season, which came on assists from Nash and Megna.
"The first shift we go out there and get a goal," Megna said. "I think that creates a lot of energy and a lot of confidence in each other."
"If I get another chance to play with those guys again, you just try and do the same things that made us effective tonight."
Head coach Alain Vigneault was simple in his assessment of Megna, and alluded to his immediate future.
"He's going to be here tomorrow," Vigneault said with a smile. "That line played a real strong game tonight. They were on the puck and made some good plays. They defended well. There's no doubt that Jayson had a real good night with those two and we'll see what we do here moving forward."
With Tuesday night's win, the Rangers improved to 165-1-9 in their last 175 regular season games when leading after two periods, dating back to Feb. 6, 2010 against the New Jersey Devils. At home dating back to that same game, the Blueshirts are 87-0-5 when leading after 40 minutes.
The Rangers improved to 14-4-0 in their last 18 home games, and have earned at least one point in 15 of the last 19 at The Garden. Since Oct. 30, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Nash have tallied 21 goals and 32 assists for 53 points in 15 home games. Each player has averaged 1.00 points per game or better during that span.
Nash skated in his 900th NHL game Tuesday night, becoming the second player — and the first forward — from the 2002 NHL Draft to do so.
Vigneault's successful third period challenge on a goal that would have brought Dallas to within two goals was the team's second successful challenge since Dec. 28 at Nashville.