TAMPA — Jussi Jokinen had to admit there was something special about getting his 30th goal Tuesday against the Lightning, the team that put him on waivers and finally traded him last season.
"I obviously have a little extra motivation playing against your old team," the left wing said after the Hurricanes' 8-5 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum. "It's unfortunate things didn't work out there."
But, boy, have they worked out in Carolina, who stole Jokinen for D Josef Melichar, W Wade Brookbank and a fourth-round draft pick.
Jokinen, 27, had seven goals and 11 points in 18 playoff games last season. His 30 goals this season are a team high, and he is second with 64 points, though the team is out of the playoffs.
He had two points and five shots against Tampa Bay.
"He's really played very well for us all year and scored big goals right from the time he came in last year," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "So, I'm happy for him because (30 goals) are quite an accomplishment, quite an achievement."
When Jokinen scored to give Carolina a 3-1 lead with 2:03 left in the first period, his teammates swarmed him with congratulations.
"It feels good," he said. "But I'd trade that in a second to get in the playoffs and play for the Stanley Cup."
RANGER SIGHTING: Lightning coach Rick Tocchet acknowledged that D Paul Ranger, away from the team since Oct. 23 because of a personal issue, visited the locker room Tuesday.
"I talked to him briefly," Tocchet said. "It was a quick, 'Hi, how you doing?' "
Tocchet said Ranger, who apparently requested he not be paid during his absence, was picking up tax information.
"I didn't get any insight," Tocchet said. "I just asked how he was."
MOVING PARTS: D Matt Lashoff and C Blair Jones were called up from AHL Norfolk. Lashoff played 2:22 and was benched in the first period for what Tocchet called a "rough night." Jones was scratched because he was up on an emergency basis to fill in for injured LW Ryan Malone and Malone decided to play. Malone (knee) missed 12 games after arthroscopic surgery.
DRAFT PICK SIGNS: LW Johan Harju, drafted 167th overall in 2007, signed a one-year deal. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Swede, 23, had four goals, 18 points in 55 games this season for Moscow Dynamo of the KHL.
ODDS AND ENDS: C Zenon Konopka's two fights and 12 penalty minutes gave him a league-high 260 minutes and set a Tampa Bay record. Enrico Ciccone had the record, 258 in 1995-96. â¦ Malone, who played for the U.S. Olympic team in February, said he will not play in the world championship next month because his wife, Abby, is expecting their second child, a boy, tentatively named Cooper James, on April 18. â¦ Victor Hedman (hip flexor) might play Thursday against the Senators. â¦ D Matt Smaby (back spasms) and D David Hale (ankle) also were scratched. â¦ C Vinny Lecavalier and LW Alex Tanguay will be at Champs in Tampa's International Plaza today from 5:30-7 p.m.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at email@example.com.