Nate Thompson sat in his locker stall, hat on backward and a small cut on the left side of his mouth but a big smile on his face. His postgame look epitomized that of the Lightning, a little battered but not beaten down after Tampa Bay snapped a five-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday in front of an announced crowd of 15,229 at Prudential Center. Thompson had a big part in the victory, with a career-high two-goal and three-point night. “We really needed it, and we were desperate (for a win),’’ Thompson said. “I thought we did a great job of managing the hockey game, the whole 60 minutes, doing all the little things right. But the biggest thing for us tonight was not turning over the puck like we did in the past.’’ Alex Killorn and Marty St. Louis each added a goal and an assist, while Vinny Lecavalier and Cory Conacher each had two assists in support of Anders Lindback, who made 25 saves in his first start since Feb. 24. B.J. Crombeen added an empty-net goal for his first of the season to seal the game. The victory was the first on the road this season outside of the Southeast Division in 12 games, with Tampa Bay improving to 4-8 on the road. “We’ve been saying it for a long time now, we deserve so much more and it just paid off,’’ Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. “The last games, we were playing against great opponents and we were right there with them … and we sabotaged ourselves like we have done so often this season by being very offensively impatient and turning the puck over at wrong moments. I told them that if we get rid of that impatience, then we will be solid and then get offensive chances without pressing when it’s not time to, and that’s what we got tonight. “And the guys deserved it.’’ After a bit of a slow start to the game, Thompson put the Lightning on the board late in the first period after rookie Ondrej Palat stripped Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador in the right corner before getting the puck to Conacher, who found Thompson alone at the top of the crease with 2:56 left in the first. St. Louis made it 2-0 at 5:53 of the second, taking a Killorn cross-ice pass in his skates and kicking it up to his forehand to put the puck past Johan Hedberg. Killorn made it 3-0 after absorbing a hit in the corner, then wheeling his way to the crease and putting a puck on net that eluded Hedberg at 13:13 to end the night for the Devils goaltender. Hedberg allowed three goals on 11 shots before giving way to rookie Keith Kinkaid for his NHL debut. Thompson scored his second of the night, coming down the slot, where Conacher found him for his fifth of the season 8:36 into the third.
Tampa Bay Lightning avoid winless trip, top Devils
Tampa Tribune | Mar 6