Lightning's Sustr makes NHL debut

Defenseman Andrej Sustr signed out of college last week.
Defenseman Andrej Sustr signed out of college last week.
Published March 29 2013
Updated March 30 2013

TAMPA — Coach Jon Cooper wasn't the only one to make his NHL debut Friday night.

D Andrej Sustr, signed last week out of Nebraska-Omaha, played in his first game against the Devils, logging 13:07 of ice time in the 5-4 shootout win.

"It was amazing," Sustr said. "A dream come true."

Sustr, 22, had participated in only one Lightning practice and two morning skates before getting his first action. But coaches have been impressed with the skating ability and savvy of the 6-foot-8, 200-pounder. He made a mistake in the first period, getting caught in an offensive rush that led to a Devils two-on-one, but he played a solid overall game.

"I think I adjusted pretty quick and did pretty well for myself," he said.

LINING UP: Cooper said he likes the seven defensemen/11 forwards lineup, having used it for almost all of the 28-game winning streak his AHL Norfolk had last season. "I think there's a lot of value to it," he said. "I don't mind having a seventh defenseman in there, especially if some of your six are of the pugilistic type, so you can lose them pretty quick if things get out of hand. So it's always good to have another one around."

MEDICAL MATTERS: C Vinny Lecavalier (left foot) continues to skate on his own and is making progress, but there is still no timetable for his return. He missed his eighth game Friday. … G Anders Lindback, out with a high ankle sprain since March 20, said he is feeling a lot better and hopes to start testing the ankle on the ice next week.

GO GRIFFINS: Rookie LW Cory Conacher is pumped that his former school, Canisius, makes its first NCAA Tournament appearance today against No. 1 overall seed Quinnipiac. The Golden Griffins earned a berth by winning the Atlantic Hockey Association tournament, and Conacher said he is going to try to follow the game on Twitter or watch on his phone. "It's going to be exciting to see how they do," Conacher said.

MEETING UP: Cooper said he has met with some of the Lightning veterans the past few days and the experience has been "really positive." Part of the meetings is "telling them who I am and what we're about," and discussing changes he wants to implement on and off the ice, he said. "Sometimes (the meetings are) met with resistance, but it hasn't been at all so far," Cooper said. "They've been sponges. They've been excited. They're being really receptive."

HEAVY HEART: There was a pregame moment of silence for late assistant coach Wayne Fleming, 62, who died from brain cancer this week.

MISCELLANY: RW B.J. Crombeen, C Dana Tyrell and D Marc-Andre Bergeron were scratched.