LOS ANGELES — Tampa Bay Lightning F J.T. Brown slid back to the hash mark inside the right circle, waiting for Teddy Purcell to find him.
Purcell gave a quick peek over his shoulder, retrieved the puck in the corner and backhanded a pass onto the tape of Brown's stick. Brown corraled the puck and in an instant snapped off a wrist shot that zipped past Phoenix G Mike Smith with 2:05 left in the second period of Saturday night's 6-3 loss at Phoenix.
The goal was the first of Brown's NHL career in his eighth game, and third since being recalled from American Hockey League affiliate Syracuse on Tuesday.
Though Brown would have liked to enjoy the goal in a victory, the 23-year-old was excited to find the back of the net for the first time in an NHL game.
“I was just looking for an open area and found it, and Teddy saw me in the slot so I tried to get it off quick,'' Brown said. “It gives you a lot more confidence to get that first one under your belt. Now, maybe you have a little more confidence to shoot the puck instead of making a pass when you have the shot.''
Brown was summoned from the minors after C Steven Stamkos broke his leg. Brown has played primarily on the second line and received time on the top power-play unit, put in position to showcase his offensive talents. In the three games since arriving, he has a goal and two points.
“J.T. has gotten better with each game; I've been really happy with the way he's played,'' Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said.
C Tom Pyatt rejoined the team this week for the first time since breaking his collar bone on Oct. 8 in Buffalo. Pyatt practiced Saturday wearing a red no-contact jersey, but he is not expected to be ready to play until after Thanksgiving.
“I was skating on my own for a while there, so it's definitely nice to get in the some drills and be around the team again,'' he said.
While the bone is sufficiently healed, it will take an additional two weeks to ensure it is strong enough to withstand contact. Tuesday is the six-week mark since the injury, and Pyatt said the doctors told him it would be eight weeks before he is cleared.
Points for Sustr
Rookie D Andrej Sustr enjoyed his first career multi-point game with a pair of assists on Saturday in Phoenix. The 6-foot-8 blue liner has been a healthy scratch at times as the team looks to find playing time for the eight defensemen it is carrying, but he remained paired with Victor Hedman for most of Saturday's game despite the return of Sami Salo from injury.
“When he starts physically to mature you are going to see this kid jump leaps and bounds, but that doesn't take away from how heady of a player he is, how smart he is being in the right positions,'' Cooper said.
“He is not afraid to try and make a play, even if it's at the cost of a mistake, because we are encouraging that. So, all those aspects of the game are there, it is just ultimately his physical strength that needs to get better. But he can dictate that, that's not a hockey-sense thing. So, he's going to be a much better player here in the coming years.''