SUNRISE — It was hard to wipe the smile off the face of Dana Tyrell during the trip to South Florida.
Tyrell, 22, called up from AHL Norfolk on Thanksgiving, made his season debut Friday against the Panthers, reuniting with C Nate Thompson and RW Adam Hall on a line that was so successful last season. He played 10:36 and had three shots, and was even for the game.
It had been a long time coming for Tyrell, who was one of the final cuts of training camp. That was partly a business decision because he wouldn't have to be exposed to waivers getting sent down. Also, the Lightning wanted to get a look at rookie RW Brett Connolly, C Blair Jones and C Mattias Ritola.
"They're things that are out of my control," Tyrell said. "I wouldn't say it caught me offguard, but it wasn't something I was completely expecting. It was tough, but I got over it pretty quick and realized what I had to do to get back up here and things I had to improve in my game."
Coach Guy Boucher lauded how Tyrell handled the situation like a "perfect soldier" with "no pout." He said Tyrell, a "relentless" 5-foot-10, 180-pound grinder with speed, will get to play. Tyrell takes the roster spot of Jones, who was reassigned to Norfolk.
"We didn't bring him up to sit," Boucher said. "He played great in the American League. He did what he's been doing since he's been with this organization, and that's the drive with incredible speed, he pays the price, he's reliable defensively.
"And that line last year was tremendous for us with Tyrell, Thompson and Hall. And right now we feel that if we can get something that worked really well for us, it just adds on to something that can give us some consistency."
Tyrell, a second-year pro who played 78 games last season, worked a bit on his offense in Norfolk and is ready to contribute.
"I'm really excited," he said. "I just want to get back playing the way I know I can in the NHL and stick here."
MEDICAL MATTERS: RW Steve Downie (upper body) did not play against the Panthers, and Boucher was unsure when he would return to the lineup. Downie made the trip and worked out off-ice during the morning skate.
MR. JONES: Jones made an impression during last season's playoffs. His play fell off a little bit this season, and he sat in 10 of the first 20 games before getting reassigned.
"The way it works in the NHL is you get a little ice time, and if you do something, you get a little more," Boucher said. "What happened was, I think (Jones) got a little nervous, and that prevented him from skating the way he can, from making the plays the way he can, and he became nervous defensively, too, which caused him to lose his game.
"So being in the stands, losing his game, losing confidence, we feel it's better off for him getting some ice time in the American League, become a jack-of-all-trades down there and getting his confidence back."
MISCELLANY: D Bruno Gervais was scratched. … D Mattias Ohlund (knees) could start traveling with the team starting next week, Boucher said, but he still isn't close to returning.