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New visa lets Denis play in Canada

Finally, Marc Denis' work visa problems are behind him.

Denis has been approved for a visa, Lightning general manager Jay Feaster said Saturday, ending a frustrating span in which the recently acquired goaltender couldn't travel to Canada.

"That's a bit of a load off my shoulders," Denis said after the Lightning's 4-3 loss to Anaheim on Saturday.

The "O" visa for which Denis has been approved - for foreign workers of "extraordinary" ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics - is valid for three years, the length of the contract Denis signed in July.

"It's just been crazy," Feaster said. "It's been a very, very difficult process."

With trips to Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa within the next two weeks, the news came right on time.

The visa problems prevented Denis from traveling to Ottawa on Dec. 2 and Montreal for a preseason game in his hometown because he might not have been allowed to re-enter the United States. It nearly kept him out of the season opener in Atlanta on Oct. 5 before a last-minute approval from the INS.

Denis, 29, applied for a "P1" visa during the summer, when he was acquired from the Blue Jackets. The central issue was how long Denis' previous visa - which lasts for 10 years - was valid.

The Lightning contended Denis, who received his visa in 1996, was out of the United States and not working for about 1,500 days (including offseasons and the lockout). The team provided credit card statements and other documents, Feaster said, but when that extra information was requested in November, the team decided to apply for the "O" visa.

"(The decision) was obviously right on target," Feaster said.

Still, there was never a conclusive ruling on the "P1" visa, which could end up resurfacing with other players as they re-apply.

FEDS BACK ON TRACK? Forward Ruslan Fedotenko scored his second goal in as many games Saturday, showing his streak of 14 games without a goal is a thing of the past.

The Lightning hope it's a sign Fedotenko and Vinny Prospal are coming around after the offense was carried by first-liners Marty St. Louis (17 goals, 22 assists) and Vinny Lecavalier (17 goals, 20 assists).

"It would be dramatically different," Fedotenko said. "You can't expect one line to do all your scoring. If everyone produces, that's when you can have a good run."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning hasn't beaten the Ducks since Feb. 25, 2003, in Anaheim. ... The Lightning is 7-11 with a tie all time against the Ducks, including 4-6 at home. ... Ducks' goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere is 4-1 against the Lightning. ... Forward Dmitry Afanasenkov and defenseman Luke Richardson were healthy scratches.

Eduardo A. Encina can be reached at