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Fedotenko strong in preseason finale
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published October 1, 2006
DALLAS - Ruslan Fedotenko had two assists, threw a jarring check and got into two face-downs with Stars troublemaker and former Lightning player Matthew Barnaby.
Not a bad night's work for the Lightning right wing who on Saturday played his first game, a disappointing 4-3 overtime loss at the American Airlines Center in which Tampa Bay, in its preseason finale, lost a three-goal, second-period lead.
Brenden Morrow got the winner with 1.1 seconds left.
"I felt pretty good, considering it was the first game," said Fedotenko, who for the second straight year is recovering from offseason surgery to his left hip. "By the third period, I got a little tired, but that's just a condition thing. The hip held up pretty good."
Fedotenko had surgery in May to repair a torn labrum, the same kind of injury fixed in June 2005.
Goaltender Marc Denis again was impressive with 21 saves in two periods before being relieved by Johan Holmqvist.
Good thing, because Tampa Bay (2-1-3) was outshot 22-13 in that stretch and 37-20 in the game.
Dmitry Afanasenkov finally scored.
Vinny Prospal and Tim Taylor chipped in, too.
But Fedotenko was the main attraction. With Fredrik Modin's 31 goals off to Columbus, Fedotenko, who last season had a career-high 26, could be one of Tampa Bay's most important players. That is why coach John Tortorella played him for 16:04 and in all situations.
"You can simulate all you want in practice and in scrimmages, but you need to play in these exhibitions to get ready," Tortorella said.
"Feds has worked hard," Tortorella said. "We know he's in good shape. It's just a matter of getting him ready for the quickness of the game."
CALLING ON AFFY: Afanasenkov said he is starting to feel the pressure.
The left wing finished the preseason with one goal and one assist. For a player given the chance to replace Modin on a line with center Brad Richards and Marty St. Louis, it is not enough.
"A little bit," said Afanasenkov when asked if his lack of scoring is a worry. "But I can't be too upset. It's important for me to work hard. If I work hard, everything is going to come."
Tortorella said he does not believe Afanasenkov's drought is a problem and will give him more time to jell with his linemates. With only one other goal, from St. Louis, it's not like the line has been lighting it up.
"It's not just Affy," St. Louis said. "Me and Richie haven't been on top of our games five-on-five. Once we are, it's going to help Affy tremendously."
Still, general manager Jay Feaster said Afanasenkov, who last season had a career-high nine goals, has to step it up.
"Affy is being given a gift-wrapped opportunity, playing on that line with two superstars," Feaster said. "He has to deliver."
"We want it to work. We hope it works," Tortorella said. "We just haven't had a good look at it yet."
BOYLE OUT AGAIN: Defenseman Dan Boyle missed his second straight game with a bruised right thumb. Tortorella said it was a precaution.
Boyle said the thumb is improving but the vibration of his stick when he takes a slap shot causes pain.
The thumb is the same one broken during the 2004 playoffs.
"So it's kind of messed up to begin with," Boyle said. "That may have something to do with it."
ODDS AND ENDS: Defenseman Nolan Pratt was minus-3 for the second time in three games. ... All four road games went to overtime. ... Wing Norm Milley cleared waivers and was assigned to AHL Springfield. ... The team is off today. Monday's practice, open to the public, is at 11 a.m. at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.