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Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak will make NHL debut in Buffalo

Erik Cernak joins the Lightning while Anton Stralman deals with an upper-body injury

Erik Cernak had just woken up from a post-practice nap on Monday when he got the call from Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois. Not a call, THE call.

BriseBois asked the 21-year-old defenseman if he was ready to go to Buffalo, where the Lightning plays Tuesday night.

"'Oh yeah,'" Cernak said he responded. "And I'm here now."

Cernak will make his NHL debut against the Sabres, as Anton Stralman deals with an "upper-body injury" that has him day-to-day.

"He had a really good preseason, and went down to the minors and carried that on through," coach Jon Cooper said. "We're in a situation where he's right down the road, so this is as good a time as any to get him in a game and we're pretty excited about it."

The Lightning took a good look at Cernak in the preseason. He played in five of its seven games, getting close to 20 minutes a game with Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh.

"I felt really good in training camp," Cernak said. "That's given me a lot of confidence in my game. When I came to Syracuse, I did my job. I worked hard every game and I think that's why I'm here now."

The Lightning acquired Cernak on Feb. 26, 2017 in the Ben Bishop trade. Cernak is a former second-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2015 NHL draft.