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Hodson's 'point' over three years in making

11/27/2002

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- After spending two seasons out of hockey,
Tampa Bay goaltender Kevin Hodson is determined to prove his
comeback bid is no fluke.

Hodson took a big step forward Wednesday, stopping 22 shots to
record his first standings point in more than three years, allowing
the Lightning to rally for a 1-1 tie against the Buffalo Sabres.

"I've been very fortunate to get a chance to come back, and I'm
just trying to make the most out of it,'' Hodson said. "I've got
nothing to lose. I like to prepare every day so when I do get my
chances I can stay here.''

Hodson, who retired after failing to find a team to sign him
after the 1999-2000 season, spent the last two years as an
assistant coach in the Ontario Hockey League before rejoining the
Lightning last May.

He was making only his second start of the season, following a
5-1 loss to New Jersey last month. Prior to retiring, Hodson had a
17-15-9 record over six seasons with the Lightning and Detroit.

The last time he recorded at least an NHL tie was Nov. 26, 1999,
while with Tampa Bay.

"I live in the now. I don't live in the past,'' Hodson said.
"You live in the present and I don't really care when my last
point was to be honest with you. I just play.''

Fredrick Modin secured the tie, scoring 4:37 into the third
period as the Lightning improved to 3-4-2-1 when trailing after two
periods.

Vaclav Varada scored for the Sabres, who squandered their fourth
third-period lead of the season and have managed just one win in 15
games (1-10-3-1).

The Sabres accepted the tie with mixed reaction.

"The end result could have been better with two points, but we
have to be content with one,'' defenseman Rhett Warrener said.
"These are games we should win and expect to win, but haven't. I
think it shows where we need to learn and what we need to do
better.''

The Sabres had two great opportunities to pull out the victory,
only to be foiled by Hodson.

Hodson was sharp with 3:08 left in overtime, managing to stop
Stu Barnes' shot from the slot during a scramble in front. He also
made a game-saving stop with seven minutes left in regulation when
he got a piece of his glove on Dmitri Kalinin's blast from the
slot.

"When things are going bad, they don't go in,'' said Sabres
coach Lindy Ruff, noting his team is 1-1-1-1 in its last four
games. "It's baby steps for us.''

Hodson's only mistake came on a shot he said he should have
stopped. Varada scored with a minute left in the second period,
snapping a shot from the right circle that sneaked in under the
goalie's left arm.

Modin got that one back, set up by Martin St. Louis, who
stripped Kalinin of the puck at the right boards. St. Louis then
centered a pass into the slot, which Modin snapped just inside the
right post.

It was Modin's sixth goal of the season and came in his first
game back after missing four with back spasms and bruised ribs.

Hodson got the start in place of workhorse Nikolai Khabibulin,
given a rare rest after making 20 starts.

Lightning coach John Tortorella was impressed by how Hodson
rebounded after giving up Varada's goal.

"I think he wishes he'd have that first goal back. But the way
he handled himself after, he played very well,'' Tortorella said.
"There's pressure on him. Every time he plays, he's fighting for
his job. It's a different kind of pressure because we're still
evaluating. ... And we're happy for him. He's a good man.''

Game notes
To make room for Modin, the Lightning demoted C Alexander
Svitov to Springfield of the AHL. ... Rather than traveling home
after Saturday's 3-1 win at New Jersey, the Lightning spent a few
days in Atlantic City before arriving in Buffalo on Tuesday. ...
The Sabres were minus two regular defensemen; Alexei Zhitnik,
expected to miss a week with a broken bone in his right foot, and
rookie Henrik Tallinder (shoulder).