VANCOUVER - It's difficult for a young player to keep his emotions in check, especially one playing in his first NHL game.
But Cristoval Nieves tried and succeeded Tuesday night in his first game as a Ranger in the team's 7-2 victory over the Canucks in Vancouver.
"The first shift took a while because we had some icings and some penalties, but it was fun," a smiling Nieves told NYRangers.com after the win. "Once I got out there, I tried to do my thing: skate, be fast and make plays. A little bumpy at first but things started to get better. It was definitely an adrenaline rush I'll never forget."
The 2012 second-round pick - who spent four seasons at the University of Michigan - was recalled from Hartford (AHL) Monday after forwards Chris Kreider (upper-body) and Pavel Buchnevich (back spasms) were unable to play Sunday night in Edmonton. Neither were available again Tuesday, opening the door for Nieves.
Head coach Alain Vigneault praised the youngster, who dealt with playing games this weekend with the Wolf Pack and cross-country travel.
"I thought he was alright," Vigneault said. "It was his fourth game in five nights. [He] flew across east to west so I thought for a first game for a young man, he played a good game for us."
With the emotion surrounding his debut, Nieves said a player has to tune out what's around him and focus on the task at hand.
"You've got to try to just do what you do best," said Nieves, who finished with 11:44 of ice time skating on a line with Brandon Pirri and Oscar Lindberg. "It's hard sometimes because you come here and you see guys who bring so much to the table, whether it's skill, speed, size, you know whatever it is. You've got to try to bring what you bring to the table and just do it at your absolute best."