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Fedotenko makes Lightning look good

By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 13, 2002

TAMPA -- The trade that brought forward Ruslan Fedotenko to the Lightning just became a little less controversial.

Acquired to provide offensive punch, Fedotenko scored two goals in Tampa Bay's 5-1 victory against Southeast Division rival Carolina in Saturday's home-opener at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"I'm excited," said Fedotenko, a third-year player who matched his career high with his fourth multigoal game. "It's a big win for us against the Stanley Cup finalist last year, in the same division, a home game; it's big for us."

Lightning general manager Jay Feaster took some flak for trading the fourth overall pick in the 2002 entry draft for Fedotenko and two second-round selections. Fedotenko was mired on Philadelphia's No. 3 checking line last season, but Feaster saw potential.

So far, the chemistry between Fedotenko and center Vinny Lecavalier on Tampa Bay's second scoring line is making Feaster look good. The line of Lecavalier, Fedotenko and Martin St. Louis produced three of Saturday's five goals.

"Jay's been kicked around pretty well as far as that deal's concerned, but people don't understand all the situations involved in a trade at the draft," coach John Tortorella said. "Jay really felt Ruslan was going to contribute, and obviously he was going to get more ice time here.

"He and Vinny have a happy little marriage right now," Tortorella said. "You never know what will happen as the season goes on, but they seem to play pretty well together. He's a great addition."

Fedotenko made it 2-0 at 12:40 of the first period, beating goaltender Arturs Irbe in a scramble in front of the net. Lecavalier, who won a faceoff, and St. Louis had assists.

Fedotenko's power-play goal, assisted by Lecavalier and defenseman Dan Boyle, made it 5-0 in the third. Fedotenko, who was on the ice for Dave Andreychuk's power-play goal in the second, took only two shots. "He's obviously got a lot of offensive skills, but he grinds everything out," said Lecavalier, who had three assists. "He goes in the corners and picks up the pucks, and that's huge. It's good to have a guy like that who can carry the puck but also go in the corners and dig it."

Fedotenko, a 23-year-old Ukraine native in his third NHL season, said he feels no pressure to disprove critics. He wants only to take advantage of the opportunity he has with Tampa Bay to play on a scoring line.

"I feel like I come here, I try to prove I'm a good player," said Fedotenko, who scored 16 goals as a rookie and 17 last season. "I just do my job. I know I can play. I know I can score 20, 25 goals and I can help the team. Our goal is to make the playoffs. This is a young team with a lot of talent, and I'm looking forward to the season."


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