Preseason push pays off for Lightning rookie

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Mathieu Joseph made of the most of his preseason chances.

He played in the most exhibition games of any Lightning players this preseason and finished with the third-most points, with four goals.

His efforts have earned him a spot on the league's most talented team. Now he has to earn the right to stay.

"It's a test," said Jon Cooper. "Now you find yourself, not in Syracuse, still in Tampa with the potential of some guys injured. There might be some open spots here. It's a little bit of a showcase to see what he can do."

Joseph's journey to the NHL has been 17 years in the making. His talent and tenacious play along with lightning speed are why he's here.  

At 21 years old, Joseph also possesses a persistence to make it permanent.

"It's the beginning of something," said Joseph. "I want it to be as long as possible. So we'll see what happens. It's been hard work of 17 years and it's every kid's dream to play in the NHL one day."

Two years ago Brayden Point was in the same situation as Joseph. He was considered a longshot but made the team after training camp.

Point has some solid advice for the rookie when he steps out on the ice for opening night: "You work so long to play in the NHL and when your first night comes around, it's kind of hard to explain what it feels like because it's been such a long journey," said Point. "Just enjoy it because you're only going to play your first game once."

"Obviously I'll be, probably a little nervous at the start, but it should go away pretty fast I think," said Joseph. "Like I said, it's been 17-years since I've been playing hockey, so I'm sure I'll calm down and play my game."