Saturday was a night Chris Driedger will never forget.
Making his first NHL start, the 25-year-old journeyman stopped all 27 shots he faced for the Florida Panthers in their 3-0 victory over the Nashville Predators. The memorable evening had Driedger lost for words.
"Honestly, I'm speechless at this point," he told reporters postgame. "It's been a long time coming. I was nervous, but as soon as the puck dropped it felt good."
A long time coming indeed. Driedger has played in the minors for seven seasons with seven different teams - in addition to suiting up for three relief appearances with the Ottawa Senators - before getting the nod Saturday. He spent a significant amount of time in the ECHL - two levels below the NHL - over the last few years.
Driedger was called up to the Panthers to start in place of a struggling Sergei Bobrovsky after posting a sparkling .938 save percentage in 14 games with the AHL's Springfield Thunderbirds this season.
The Winnipeg native left quite an impression on his coaches and teammates.
Head coach Joel Quenneville echoed his captain's statement.
"I thought he was great," Quenneville said. "Composure was terrific. Waited on pucks. Smooth. I thought he moved well. Happy for him."