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Tampa Bay Lightning wing David Koci works on being more than a fighter

WASHINGTON — For David Koci, one goal is not enough.

The enforcer, who scored his first NHL goal Thursday against the Canadiens, said he someday wants to be known as much for how he plays as how he fights.

"I know my role," Koci said Friday. "But I know in the NHL, you have to bring something more, so I work on it, and try to get better.

"The coaches and the guys know, if something happens, I will be there. But I can be more valuable for the team if I'm able to play, hold the puck on the boards, play the game and make some hits. It's not just fighting."

It is that kind of attitude that has endeared Koci to coaches and teammates. It is why he was mobbed on the ice after he scored, and those on the bench stood and pounded their sticks on the boards. "He has a difficult job," LW Matt Pettinger said. "It was nice to see him get rewarded."

"The guy works hard and never complains," coach Rick Tocchet said. "His first NHL goal. I'm proud of him."

Koci, 27, a 6-foot-6, 227-pound left wing, has done Tampa Bay's dirty work and entered Friday averaging just 5:36 of ice time. He even has filled in for an injury-depleted defense.

But the Prague native said his hockey future depends on widening his skill set. He's not talking about a starring role, either: "Maybe later, people will think I'm a good fourth-line player, not just the fighting."

In the meantime, Koci will savor his first goal, a short-range shot from the slot into an open net. "It was fun," he said.

PAPER TRAIL: A strange moment occurred 2:30 into the third period Friday against the Capitals, when a cross-checking penalty on RW Evgeny Artyukhin nullified Jeff Halpern's goal that would have tied the score 3-3. Suddenly, game notes came flying out of the Lightning's press box suite occupied by GM Brian Lawton and owner Oren Koules and into the stands. Fans threw them back. Lawton said he was responding only to fans who had thrown something first. Lawton and the fans laughed it off.

SMABY HURT: D Matt Smaby left the game after the first period with a lower-body injury.

NO HARD FEELINGS: G Mike McKenna, who had criticized Alex Ovechkin for his 50th-goal celebration last week at the St. Pete Times Forum, apologized to him after the game: "I went over to tell him there was nothing to it. It's water under the bridge."

ODDS AND ENDS: C Steven Stamkos' 19 goals are two off Brad Richards' rookie record. … F Paul Szczechura (leg) and D Marek Malik (ankle) were scratched.

Tampa Bay Lightning wing David Koci works on being more than a fighter 03/27/09 [Last modified: Saturday, March 28, 2009 6:23am]

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