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Rookies battle past Montreal


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 5, 2000

The Lightning showed some scoring punch, and threw a few punches as well Monday night, as it opened a rookie tournament with a 5-2 victory over the Canadiens.

Dmitry Afanasenkov scored a hat trick at Robert-Guertin Arena in Hull, Quebec, and Sheldon Keefe and Martin Cibak had two assists each in a game that featured six fights.

"I thought Montreal tried to come out and bully us. I don't know why, but they tried to run guys and fight," coach Steve Ludzik said. "I liked the way our guys stuck together."

The Lightning took a 3-0 lead in the first period on Afanasenkov's two power-play goals and a goal by Johan Hagglund. Montreal closed to 3-2 at 57 seconds of the third period, but Afanasenkov's goal at 9:58 and Kevin Malcolm's empty-netter at 19:46 ended the scoring.

Evgeny Konstantinov was sharp in goal, stopping 21 of 22 shots.

"Our guys put a really good work ethic into the game," Ludzik said. "We had some solid goaltending, and all the guys we expected came up huge for us."

Montreal's Matt Carkner was thrown out of the game at 4:35 of the second period with his second fighting major after taking on Brett Scheffelmaier. He fought Kristian Kudroc in the first period.

Tampa Bay's Paul Lawson needed 10 stitches in his left eyelid and nose after a second-period fight with Francois Beauchemin.

FLETCHER TO PHOENIX: Cliff Fletcher, senior adviser to Lightning general manager Rick Dudley, is taking a job with the Coyotes. He will be an assistant to owners Wayne Gretzky and Steve Ellman, who could assume control of the team this month.

Fletcher, who was general manager of the Atlanta and Calgary Flames for the franchise's first 19 years and was with the Lightning for two seasons, could not be reached for comment.

"I think he just wanted more of a challenge than he got with us and I think his relationship with Wayne Gretzky is really tight," Dudley said. "His experience and knowledge of the league will be missed."

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