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Tampa Bay Lightning rookie Victor Hedman enjoys first career goal

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman puts the puck past Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson in the third period for his first NHL goal.

Associated Press

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman puts the puck past Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson in the third period for his first NHL goal.

TAMPA — You can excuse rookie D Victor Hedman for his spirited celebration after his third-period goal.

It was the first goal of his NHL career, so it didn't matter that the tally came late in a 4-0 victory Saturday over the Islanders.

The 6-foot-6 Swede had waited 27 games to reach the milestone, so he was going to soak it in with what C Jeff Halpern dubbed a "soccer-style" celebration.

"It feels pretty awesome," Hedman said.

Then he smiled. "Let's hope it doesn't take 28 games to get my next one."

The goal came in a matchup with the 2009 No. 1 overall draft pick, Islanders C John Tavares, the league's top-scoring rookie. He was picked one spot ahead of the Lightning rookie.

Hedman, 18, scored while on an odd-man rush with C Vinny Lecavalier midway through the third period.

Lecavalier, skating on the right side, craftily lofted a perfect pass over the stick of Islander and right to Hedman, who redirected the puck into the open net before crashing into the boards.

So happy, Hedman joked he "didn't feel the impact" before popping up.

LW Alex Tanguay retrieved the puck, he said, so Hedman will always have a keepsake.

"It was a great pass by Vinny," Hedman said. "It was almost an open net, so it felt great. I promised my friends back home to make a celebration, so it was awesome."

Wright Stuff: Rookie LW James Wright, who was involved in his first NHL fight Friday night, earned praise from coach Rick Tocchet and teammates for taking on Devils D Matthew Corrente.

"I thought he did well," Halpern said. "That's a tough guy he fought. I think the guys love seeing it and really appreciate what he did."

Wright, 19, said that after he finished a check against Corrente, the defenseman asked him if he wanted to fight. "I said, 'Sure.' "

"I was a little nervous going in, but I just try to hold my own in the fight," Wright said. "I had four fights last year (in juniors) and one the year before that, so it's not completely foreign to me, but I haven't done it a lot. It was kind of nice to get the first one out of the way, though."

Wright said he got a few calls from family and friends about the bout. "I got a lot of, 'Are you okay?' A lot of people asking me if I'm all right," he said. "That's about it."

Odds and ends: C Paul Szczechura's upper-body injury from Friday's game doesn't appear to be serious. Though Szczechura was scratched Saturday, Tocchet said he was a game-time decision and is day to day. D Kurtis Foster filled in for Szczechura at forward. LW Todd Fedoruk and D Matt Smaby were also scratched. … LW Ryan Malone scored his 16th goal of the season.

Tampa Bay Lightning rookie Victor Hedman enjoys first career goal 12/05/09 [Last modified: Sunday, December 6, 2009 12:20am]
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