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Audette ready to go after frightening skate injury

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 31, 2002

MONTREAL -- The nightmares are over. Donald Audette is sleeping peacefully.

MONTREAL -- The nightmares are over. Donald Audette is sleeping peacefully.

All the Canadiens right wing has to remember one of the NHL's most gruesome injuries are the scars on his left wrist and forearm and the memories.

"About two hours after the surgery the doctors told my family I was out of danger, so I guess that means I was in danger," Audette said Thursday before Montreal faced the Lightning at the Molson Centre.

"But as I look back on the play, I probably would do the same thing again. It was a freak accident. I hope to be able to find a spot where I don't have that fear."

Audette was injured Dec. 1, when the skate of Rangers defenseman Radek Dvorak cut through his arm and its tendons, requiring four hours of surgery.

"It was not too pretty," said Audette, who returned Saturday night against the Penguins. "I had nightmares the first few nights after it happened. I would look down at my arm and every time the artery pumped, blood was pumping out of my arm."

Audette said his ability to skate off the ice might have saved his life because he probably kept an additional "two liters of blood" from pouring out. He said he thought he would not play again this season.

"But all the hard work the past four months is paying off," he said. "We'll go (Saturday) and see what happens."

BREAKOUT EFFORT: Frederic Cassivi struggled for almost seven years in the minors with the Senators and Avalanche before getting his big break with the Thrashers.

In his first two NHL starts, Cassivi stopped 33 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Rangers, then 50 in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Senators.

Cassivi, who will be a 26-year-old unrestricted free agent after the season, will probably get a huge raise from his $400,000 salary.

Why did he labor so long in the minors? The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder, acquired Jan. 24 for minor league defenseman Brett Clark, said it was because of his size.

"Maybe I lacked the quickness shorter goalies have," he said. "I have to work on that. I also had a problem with consistency, but I've gotten better."

NO WAY: To the shock of just about everybody, St. Louis' Keith Tkachuk got a one-game suspension for skull-jarring Chicago's Lyle Odelein on March24. That did not sit well with Phoenix's Brad May, who got 20 games for slashing Steve Heinze. "It's just bewildering," May said. "It doesn't make sense to me.'

This might help: May was the first player to be punished after Marty McSorley bashed Donald Brashear.

SUMMING IT UP: Hurricanes forward Rod Brind'Amour nearly lost an eye to a high stick on Feb. 8, was cross-checked in the face by Joe Thornton on Feb. 29, and was butt-ended over the left eye by Bobby Holik on March23.

"My face is getting in the way," he said. "It's a good thing I'm married, I guess. That's why I'm going to get into radio when I'm done."

ODDS AND ENDS: Getting Michael Peca from the Sabres turned out to be a steal for the Islanders. In his first 71 games, Peca had 23 goals and 58 points. Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt, whom the Sabres got in return, had a combined 18 goals, 54 points. ... When newly signed center Mark Hartigan plays his first game for the Thrashers, probably Tuesday in Calgary, he will be the 14th rookie to play for Atlanta this season. ... Stephane Richer's first goal since being traded to the Devils ignited a three-goal third period Wednesday and a 4-3 victory over the Penguins, his previous team. "I tried not to show any emotion," the former Lightning player said. "I have too much respect for everyone over there. But when I got back to the bench, I smiled a little bit." ... In 24 games against Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, Pittsburgh's Aleksey Morozov has 12 goals and 24 points. ... If the Blues aren't careful, their 22-season streak of making the playoffs -- the longest in pro sports -- will end. ... Speaking of the Blues, going into Saturday, Chris Pronger, Al MacInnis and Scott Young had four goals in their previous 27 games, as many as Dallas Drake. ... The Coyotes will break ground on their new 17,500-seat arena in Glendale, Ariz., Wednesday. It should be ready by December 2003. ... How's this for shocking? Edmonton goalie Tommy Salo had 15 Oiler shutouts going into Saturday, five more than future Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr. ... The Wild is 3-for-3 on penalty shots. The rest of the league is 4-for-37.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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