FAIRBANKS — It had been 24 days since Cody Kunyk signed a one-year, two-way entry level contract with the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lighting.
On Sunday, Kunyk made his NHL debut after being a healthy scratch for nine games.
The Sherwood Park, Alberta, native played 10 minutes, 12 seconds in the Lightning’s 1-0 shootout win against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. It was the final regular season game for both teams.
Anchorage’s Matt Carle was the only shooter to score in the shootout for the Lightning.
The win clinched the No. 4 seed in Eastern Conference for Lightning, who will face the fifth-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The best-of-seven series begins Wednesday in Tampa Bay.
The Lightning have won four straight entering the postseason.
Kunyk, who was named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Player of the Year, fired two shots on goal, blocked one shot, recorded one hit and won one of five faceoffs he took.
He reported to the Lightning on March 23 and participated in his first practice with the team on March 25.
In 37 regular season games this season for the Alaska Nanooks, Kunyk, who was a CCM Hockey Second Team All-American, scored 22 goals with 21 assists for 43 points in 37 games to lead the Nanooks. His 43 points were second in the WCHA behind Minnesota State’s Matt Leitner who had 45 points in 39 games.
In conference play, Kunyk led all WCHA skaters with 17 goals and 34 assists.
For his Nanooks career, Kunyk scored 60 goals with 73 assists for 133 career points, good for 13th on the program’s all-time scoring list.
Former Nanooks goalie Chad Johnson made 31 saves in the Boston Bruins 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday in Newark, N.J., in both team’s regular season finale.
Johnson was a Second Team All-American with the Nanooks in 2009.
The Bruins, who had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Presidents’ Trophy entering the game, rested Jarome Iginla, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly.
Martin Brodeur made 16 saves in what could have been his final game with the Devils, who missed the playoffs for the second straight season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Tim O’Donnell at 459-7583.
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