tampabay.com

Alexeev sustains frightening eye injury

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published September 23, 2006


DETROIT -- Lightning wing Nikita Alexeev sustained a scary injury to his right eye Friday night during a 5-4 overtime loss to the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

Alexeev took a stick blade in the eye from Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom with 3:28 left in the third period, and though he skated off the ice, he was bleeding and had to be helped by teammate Cory Sarich.

Alexeev's right eye was shut and he was taken to Detroit Medical Center, where he will stay overnight for a complete eye exam, said team spokesman Bill Wickett. Assistant trainer Jason Serbus will stay with Alexeev.

The extent of the injury was not immediately known.

"I don't know yet," Alexeev said as he walked out of the locker room. "I can't really see anything right now."

"Yeah, it scares me," coach John Tortorella said. "It scares me any time it's with an eye."

Holmstrom's four-minute penalty led to Vinny Lecavalier's goal with 36 seconds left that tied the score at 4. Detroit's Jason Williams scored with 7.3 seconds left in the extra period.

Lecavalier scored three goals, including two in the third period to erase a 4-2 deficit. Backup goalie Johan Holmqvist made his first start and made 21 saves, including some big-time split stops. But Detroit's fourth goal, scored by Jakub Kindl from the sideboards through Holmqvist's legs, is one a goalie probably wants back.

HE'S (KIND OF) HURT: Center Andreas Karlsson did not play because of what head trainer Tommy Mulligan called "groin fatigue." Karlsson's spot between Alexeev and Ryan Craig was taken by Eric Perrin.

"It's a precaution," Karlsson said.

FAN FRIENDLY: Lightning CEO Tom Wilson said he is thrilled the team maintained season-ticket sales equal to last season's 14,500, including partials. Still, in what he called "a relatively new (hockey) market," three straight playoff seasons aren't enough.

"I think there's a feeling that another year, two years, you're creating lifetime hockey fans," Wilson said. "We made a big dent in that aspiration when we won the Cup, and we reinforced it by making the playoffs again. You do it four, five years in a row, that's what you need, so there is a lot of pressure for us to continue to do well."

Wilson said Palace Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Lightning and is in Auburn Hills, Mich., lost about $5-million last year on its Tampa operation.

GLITZ & STICKS: The celebrity casino event is Friday at the St. Pete Times Forum. Tickets are $250. Sponsorship packages start at $1,500.

Proceeds will be used to renovate the Children's Medical Center Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Tampa General Hospital and support the Lightning Foundation's Community Grant Program. For information, go to tampabaylightning.com or call (813) 301-6590.

MORE FUNDRAISING: As part of its observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Lightning is asking fans to visit tampabaylightning.com and click on the Making Saves, Saving Lives icon to pledge for every home-game save in October by a Tampa Bay goaltender. Proceeds benefit research at Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center.

CUTS: They will be announced today.