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Lightning grows accustomed to trip-ups

It seems that every time the Tampa Bay Lightning sets off for another city this season, it turns into an adventure.

The plane doesn't work. The weather is bad. The luggage is lost.

Now there's a new fiasco for the list.

A 90-minute flight from Vancouver to Edmonton after Saturday night's 3-1 loss to the Canucks turned into a 7{-hour ordeal, with a route that stopped in Portland, Ore. The Lightning arrived at its hotel in Edmonton at 5:30 a.m.

Why?

Because a Canadian customs agent decided to deny clearance for the Lightning's chartered plane. After three hours of waiting, he cited a rule known as cabotage. It states foreign aircraft cannot fly between two Canadian cities unless the carrier is operating under a continuing tour charter. The Lightning was, except that its first plane had a problem with its door freezing open, so the charter company replaced the plane for one leg with the Denver Nuggets' team plane.

The Lightning finally learned it had the option of flying to a U.S. city, clearing customs there, then flying to Edmonton. The nearest city was Seattle, Wash., but customs was closed there. So it was off to Portland. After a 45-minute stop to clear U.S. customs, it was off to Edmonton.

After a 45-minute bus ride to the hotel, the Lightning checked in just 6{ hours before its pregame meal. "Don't anybody miss the 5:45 a.m. curfew," said Lightning defenseman Marc Bergevin, one of the few who found humor in the situation.

Not a stick-y situation

Bergevin was ejected from Saturday night's game because officials thought he was the one who cut Shawn Antoski with a high stick. "It wasn't me," Bergevin said. "My stick never left the ground." It was Rudy Poeschek's stick that was at issue. While tangled in front of the goal with a Canuck, he was pushed and his stick inadvertently went up. Jim Christison was the NHL supervisor on duty and after reviewing the play, told Bergevin and Lightning coach Terry Crisp that Bergevin shouldn't have been assessed the major. A player is automatically suspended for a game after two major stick infractions. Christison said he will have the NHL dismiss it from Bergevin's record. To make sure, Crisp said, the Lightning is sending the tape to the league.

Adjusting fine

Bob Beers was in much better spirits than the last time he saw the Lightning, on Nov. 12, when he was traded for defenseman Chris Joseph. "It hasn't been above zero since I've been here, but personally, I'm happy," said Beers, who entered the game with nine goals and 29 assists. "I've been playing a lot. I would like to win some more games, but things are going well for me." He plays on one of the top two power-play units and plays a regular shift with defensive partner Freddie Olausson. "When I was traded, I wouldn't say it was the best thing for me," Beers said. "But it takes time to adjust, and I'm making the best of things. I'm not happy Tampa finger-pointed at me and made me the scapegoat. Maybe I was or maybe I wasn't, but that's the way it seemed."

_ CAMMY CLARK

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