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Hodson looks better in win

By BRANT JAMES and DAMIAN CRISTODERO
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 29, 2002

TAMPA -- Kevin Hodson doesn't know if it was good enough, and the Lightning isn't offering any clues. But if his bid to become Nikolai Khabibulin's understudy is successful, they'll all point to his performance on Saturday.

Playing in his second full preseason game, Hodson, 30, stopped 34 shots as the Lightning beat the Panthers 5-2 before 12,304 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"The only thing you can control is what you do in the game," said Hodson, who hasn't played an NHL game since February, 2000. "That's the bottom line. I can't control what management or the coaching staff thinks." Hodson is 2-1-1 with a 1.64 goals-against average in 183 preseason minutes. The Lightning is 3-2-1.

Hodson was largely untested in a first period laden with six Lightning power plays, but he was steady in a final two periods when the Panthers hammered away for a 31-13 shots advantage. Several of his stops were dazzling, including a pad save on a Branislav Mezei shot from the slot in the first and a stop of Byron Ritchie on a breakaway in the second.

Leading 4-0, Hodson allowed a goal at 3:47 of the third period when Mezei scored on a 5-on-3 power play. Six minutes later Eric Beaudoin chipped in a shot from the crease that Hodson gloved but that was ruled over the goal line.

Sheldon Keefe scored his first two goals of the season, and Vinny Prospal, who also had two assists, and Shane Willis managed their first. Ruslan Fedotenko scored his second.

The issue now is whether Hodson's effort erases Wednesday's performance, in which he allowed two soft goals in a 3-0 loss to Carolina. General manager Jay Feaster said he has kept his eyes open, as he has with other positions, for possible replacements if the goalie fails.

"We have a couple of different contingency plans in place," Feaster said. "If Kevin is not the one, we will go in a different direction.

"This is still about Kevin demonstrating he can handle the job."

Lightning coach John Tortorella said Hodson worked hard in preseason and "played well" on Saturday, but is not ready to stamp Hodson the backup.

The club could explore options through the Oct. 4 waiver draft or free agency.

Rumors since the summer have had the Senators trading backup goalie Jani Hurme. And though Ottawa had a scout at the Lightning's previous two games, Feaster said he has not spoken about goalies with the Senators.

HURTS: Defenseman Pavel Kubina did not play in the third after sustaining what was called a mild charlie horse in his right leg.

POWER OUTAGE: After going 1-for-8 Saturday, Tampa Bay is 7-for-44 on the power play in the preseason, one on an empty net.

The team has not practiced the power play, but Kubina said, "It should be a little smoother."

SCARY MOMENT: The Lightning's team plane was descending to land in Fort Lauderdale on Friday when the plane's nose jerked up and the engines went into overdrive.

After leveling off the captain announced he had avoided a plane on the runway that had been cleared to take off but for unknown reasons had failed to move.

Some players were clearly shaken. "It scared the c--- out of me," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "I'm not a big fan of flying anyway. I have a bad time to begin with, and that doesn't help."

Defenseman Darren Rumble said the plane was no more than "two stories" off the ground when the landing was aborted.

"I was just hoping a plane wasn't taking off the way we were coming in," he said.

ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning scratches on Saturday were: goaltenders Michal Lanicek and Evgeny Konstantinov; defensemen Marek Priechodsky, Kenton Smith, Jeremy Van Hoof, Stan Neckar, Jassen Cullimore, Kristian Kudroc and Mathieu Biron; and forwards Vincent Lecavalier, Brian Holzinger, Chris Dingman, Dave Andreychuk, Martin St. Louis, Tim Taylor, Dimitry Afanasenkov, and Gordie Dwyer. ... The Lightning's last preseason home game is Tuesday night against the Thrashers. ... Practices are now at the St. Pete Times Forum and are not open to the public.


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