NEW YORK – Anthony Peluso acted like he’d been there before.
In just his third National Hockey League game, Peluso recorded his first two NHL points, both coming on primary assists in the second period, to help lead his Winnipeg Jets past the New York Rangers, 4-3.
"As a kid, you always dream about it, so it’s like a dream really. It hasn’t really set in yet. A bunch of guys were saying they got their first points (at MSG). It’s a pretty special building; it’s been around for a long time. This is a good feeling."
At the 7:02 mark of the second period, Peluso fended off two Rangers defenders on the right-wing boards, and found Evander Kane cutting towards the net at the inside of the right circle. Kane snapped a quick, perfectly placed wrist shot off the far post and in past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, and just like that, Peluso had his first NHL point with a primary assist.
"The first one, I got the puck kind of from the D zone, and I saw I had a little bit of room," recalled Peluso.
"So, I just kind of heard from the bench, ‘Skate with it, skate with it.’ I got it into the zone and turned down, started protecting the puck for a second. I saw Kaner was calling for it, so I just gave him a quick little backhand pass, and he made a great shot. That was pretty special."
It wouldn’t take long for him to double his career point total. Just seven minutes and 46 seconds later, and Peluso was at it again. He found space to the left side of the crease and quickly snapped a shot towards Lundqvist that deflected right onto the stick of Olli Jokinen, who buried it in the net to give Winnipeg a 3-1 lead.
The former Alaska Aces forward had 13 points during the 2009-10 season in which he played in the ECHL — 11 coming with Alaska and two with Peoria of the American Hockey League — and he tied that career-high with his two assists on Tuesday. Brought in more for toughness than skill, Peluso isn’t lacking in either department. Winnipeg head coach Claude Noel told ECHL.com that he was very impressed with the 23-year-old’s overall performance last night.
"It’s a little early to tell, but it looks like he’s going to be a player for us," Noel said.
"He was patient with the puck, he’s a big guy that can do different things. But where he shows good things for me is that he skates well enough for a big man with that type of game, and he’s got good hands.
“The play he made to Evander Kane, that’s a real sharp play — Evander put it off the post, and that’s what goal scorers do — but he’s reliable defensively as well. So, for us, we’re happy that he’s able to contribute in the game."