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TAMPA -- When Gordie Dwyer arrived in Tampa three years ago, he was a 21-year-old second-year pro looking for a chance to break into the NHL.
He returned Sunday playing alongside a future Hall of Famer.
In his first game in Tampa since being traded to the Rangers for forward Boyd Kane on Oct.10, Dwyer played on a line centered by Mark Messier.
"It feels good," Dwyer said. "I've been excited to come back and have the opportunity to play against Tampa. It's just another game on the schedule, but it's a big game for me."
Dwyer started the season with Hartford of the AHL but was recalled Dec.16. The rugged left wing made his Rangers debut that night against San Jose.
Playing his familiar forechecking role, Dwyer entered with no points, nine penalty minutes and five shots in five games.
"Things have really gone well," Dwyer said. 'I had an opportunity to play with a guy like Mark Messier, who's been my centerman most nights. They needed a little bit of a spark, and I think I've provided a little bit of that for the team."
Dwyer said the Lightning, which acquired him in a 1999 trade with Montreal, gave him his first real shot.
"It was a great opportunity for me," Dwyer said. "I wish maybe sometimes I would have had a little bit more of an opportunity, but that's the game of hockey. I enjoyed my time here. And I love the city, and I love the people here in Tampa." UNDEREXPOSED?: The game was on ESPN2, marking the Lightning's first national TV appearance in two seasons.
While it might seem too few for a squad that entered the game atop the Southeast, the players weren't complaining.
"That's for other people to decide whoever they want to broadcast," left wing Fredrik Modin said before the game. "But sure, it's fun when you get a chance to be on there. Hopefully, we can play a good game, too, to show our fans that we can play hockey."
BACK IN ACTION: Right wing Jimmie Olvestad, a scratch the past nine games, returned as a replacement for Andre Roy. Roy has blurred vision in his left eye after being hit by a puck Friday. Olvestad received the news at Saturday's practice.
"I'm just going to try not to do too much out there, just play a simple game," he said. "And hopefully, everything works out that way. It's going to feel a little rusty the first couple of shifts, obviously. The game pace, you miss that."
Roy is day to day.
SVITOV MOVES: Center Alexander Svitov was a healthy scratch. After the game he was sent to AHL Springfield. Defenseman Darren Rumble was called up.
ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning also scratched center Brian Holzinger. ... Dwyer is one of four ex-Lightning players with the Rangers, including Matthew Barnaby, Cory Cross and Sandy McCarthy. ... ... Linesman Tim Nowak left after injuring his left shoulder on a collision along the boards with Modin and a Ranger with 8:29 left in the second. He returned to start the third. ... New York's Eric Lindros, usually a center, played left wing on a line centered by Bobby Holik.