MONTREAL -- Jimmy Vesey is no stranger to big games. Whether winning gold with the United States at the World Junior Championship or starring at Harvard University, the rookie is used to the big stage.
But Wednesday night was a new experience for the 23-year-old, who dressed for his first NHL playoff game in one of the more hostile arenas in the league at Montreal's Bell Centre. Even prior to the puck drop, Vesey said there were memories that he won't soon forget.
"I thought it was an awesome experience," Vesey told reporters following Thursday's practice. "When we were skating out right before the anthem, the building was really loud and that's something I'll remember forever, my first playoff game in Montreal."
Understandably there were some nerves, but the first-year forward who tallied 16 goals and 27 points in 80 games said he felt more comfortable as Game 1 went on, with it eventually feeling like a normal contest.
"I knew it was going to be a raucous crowd, but I thought I settled in and didn't have too many jitters once I started handling the puck," said Vesey, who had one shot in 11:49 of ice time. "It was a good first shift. We got our forecheck and I made a play to [Rick Nash] right in front, so I think that gave me confidence going forward."
Head coach Alain Vigneault praised Vesey, especially late in the game when the Rangers were holding on to a one-goal advantage.
"He was fine," Vigneault said. "He had a couple … big battles in the third one-on-one where he kept the puck and was able to keep it in the offensive zone. For the most part for a young player coming in to this environment, he did well."