Stepan's come long way from hat trick

Rangers center Derek Stepan celebrates scoring the game-tying

Rangers center Derek Stepan celebrates scoring the game-tying goal during the third period against Tampa Bay. (Dec. 23, 2010) (Credit: Christopher Pasatieri)

BUFFALO -- Derek Stepan said Wednesday that he has forgotten most of what happened on opening night at HSBC Arena before he scored a hat trick.

"I remember what the locker room looked like, and I can tell you where I was sitting, over there, but not too much of the game, everything was going so fast." Stepan said after the morning skate.

The three goals in his NHL debut "definitely took a while to sink in, maybe three or four days," said Stepan, 20, who made the club after leaving the University of Wisconsin. "I'm still learning, it's a different atmosphere this part of the year. It's going to have some sort of special feeling, I don't know how long it's going to last."

Stepan, who scored his 20th goal of the season against Boston on Saturday, said a lot has changed.

"It's what, Game 77 tonight? . . . Just the way I prepare, the style of the game. Games like in Boston, 1-0, you're not going to see many mistakes; the first game of the year, you saw a little more breakdowns. It's tighter now. "

 

Blue notes

Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who missed the game with what was described as an upper-body injury, possibly from a shot from Toronto's Dion Phaneuf on Tuesday that hit him in the clavicle, didn't even dress. Patrick Lalime was the backup . . . Mats Zuccarello was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. D Matt Gilroy sat for the third game . . . Jordan Leopold, Shaone Morrisonn, Jochen Hecht and Mike Grier were out for the Sabres.

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