By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 17, 2000
ESTERO -- The veterans bested the youngsters Saturday night.
The Carolina Hurricanes, playing most of their established stars, scored a 5-4 victory at TECO Arena against a Lightning squad filled with youth and players trying to solidify positions.
It was the preseason opener for both teams.
Kevin Hatcher had a hat trick, including the game-tying and game-winning goals in the third period. Ron Francis assisted on both and totaled three assists. And Sandis Ozolinsh, playing his first game for Carolina since being traded from Colorado, had a goal and three assists.
"A lot of their players dressed," Lightning right wing Wayne Primeau said. "We showed a lot of heart tonight. It's too bad we lost."
Primeau, who had two goals, put Tampa Bay ahead 4-3 at 4:02 of the third period when he beat goaltender Arturs Irbe. But Hatcher tied it at 7:49 and then took advantage of a five-on-three situation to get the winner past goaltender Evgeny Konstantinov at 12:10.
Twenty-nine penalties were called, mostly for stick infractions, resulting in five five-on-threes, three for Carolina.
The Hurricanes were 3-for-10 on the power play and scored twice with a two-man advantage. The Lightning was 2-for-13 on the power play and did not score on its two-man advantages.
"We had our opportunities to win that hockey game and capitalize on the five-on-threes like they did," said Brian Holzinger, who had two assists.
"The refs are trying to clamp down, but the flow of the game was gone for half the game," said Ryan Johnson, who scored Tampa Bay's second goal.
Lightning coach Steve Ludzik agreed, but said it was a good lesson.
"That's a good bite in the a-- for us," he said. "You can't play macho with the stick anymore. You have to play hockey. I have no complaints."
He had compliments for center Brad Richards and Russian left wing Alexander Kharitonov, this year's third-round draft choice who scored in the first period on his first NHL shot.
KECZMER HURT: Lightning defenseman Dan Keczmer was helped off the ice at 16:56 of the second period with a sprained right knee sustained when he was checked into the boards. Head medical trainer Dave Boyer said Keczmer will be re-evaluated today.
WEATHER WATCH: Lightning spokesman Jay Preble said tonight's game against the Hurricanes at the Ice Palace in Tampa is a go unless extreme conditions result from Hurricane Gordon.
For information, call (813) 301-6600.
CROWD CONTROL: The threat of heavy weather held Saturday's attendance to 3,303. The teams played before more than 7,000 at TECO Arena last year.
VINNY'S BACK: Center Vinny Lecavalier returned to the ice for Saturday's morning skate at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon after missing two days with a hyperextended left elbow. Ludzik said he plans to sit Lecavalier tonight.
INJURY UPDATE: Left wing Gordie Dwyer (left knee) also returned to practice, as did left wing Kyle Freadrich (right shoulder) and left wing Fredrik Modin (sore groin). Defenseman Kristian Kudroc left the ice after taking a slap shot directly into his groin area. He was treated with an ice pack.