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St. Louis, team steamed about slash

Hurricanes defenseman Sean Hill said he isn't proud of the slash he laid on the back of Martin St. Louis' left leg and added, "I'm glad he's all right."

But Hill tried to justify what happened by saying, "It's just hockey."

St. Louis said of the play, "I think that's cowardice."

The Lightning right wing was trying to poke a puck past goaltender Kevin Weekes 2:34 into the second when Hill came down hard with his stick.

St. Louis crumbled to the ice and stayed their for about a minute, face down, his head resting in his hands. He skated off under his own power and did not miss a shift. But when St. Louis got back to the bench, he slammed the door shut in pain and anger.

"He's that kind of a player," St. Louis said after the 4-3 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Asked if he was disappointed no penalty was called, Lightning coach John Tortorella said, "Disappointed? Use another word."

"I just reacted," Hill said. "I'm not proud of what happened but it happened. If we got a guy in front of their net whacking away at the puck, he's going to get hit too."

That didn't placate St. Louis, who scored a first-period goal and, especially after the incident, wanted another.

"I want to get him back somehow," St. Louis said. "I don't want to take the penalty. It's an emotional game. Stuff like that happens. We're all battlers. You just want to dish it back."

St. Louis said it is a long season.

"I'm not going to fight him," he said. "I've got a stick just like he does."

FEDOTENKO SCRATCHED: With zero goals and one point in seven games,Ruslan Fedotenko sat Saturday against the Hurricanes.

"It's the coach's decision, and I really can't do anything about it," he said. "I'm not happy about it."

"He's upset, and to me that's handling it okay," Tortorella said.

Dmitry Afanasenkov, scratched for consecutive games, took Fedotenko's spot. Fredrik Modin played on Vinny Lecavalier's left. Andre Roy took Modin's spot with center Martin Cibak and right wing Ben Clymer.

Tortorella said Fedotenko, at plus-2, has played well defensively, but has had trouble controlling the puck.

"If this team wants to be the best it can be, he needs to be a big part of it," Tortorella said. "It's early on and maybe a night watching can help."

AMICABLE SPLIT: Janne Laukkanen said he had "no bad feelings" toward the team. The defenseman took a $200,000 buyout on his $600,000 deal instead of an assignment to the minors.

"I'm thankful Tampa Bay gave me a chance to play," Laukkanen said. "Sometimes things don't work the way you think."

Laukkanen played two games for Tampa Bay during last season's playoffs and signed as a free agent during the summer after surgery to repair an arthritic left hip. He did not have a good training camp and was scratched the first seven games of the season.

Laukkanen, 33, said he'll explore playing options in his native Finland. He's expected to clear waivers Tuesday.

"It's been tough," Laukkanen said. "But the team is playing so well, I understand they don't want to change a lot of things."

ODDS AND ENDS: Defenseman Darren Rumble was scratched. Cibak's high stick on Carolina's Jesse Boulerice in the third broke Boulerice's nose. _ DAMIAN CRISTODERO

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