Three days after a puck shattered his visor, C Nate Thompson returned to the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup Tuesday looking no worse for wear. Thompson was hit by a Mike Green slap shot near his right eye during the first period of Saturday's overtime loss to the Capitals in Washington. The impact was so forceful, it shattered Thompson's visor and left him with a gash above his right eye that required eight stitches. Three days later, all that was visible were the stitches and some yellow discoloration around his eye. Though Thompson sat out Sunday's game at Buffalo to make sure there were no concussion-like symptoms, he did not hesitate to get back on the ice once he was cleared. “Whenever you miss a game, you are always itching to get back,'' said Thompson, who engaged in a fight with Eric Tangradi in the second period. While Thompson's physical scars remain evident, there also is the question of any lingering emotional toll. Blocking shots is a big part of Thompson's game, particularly on the penalty kill, but he doesn't think he will be inhibited the next time he has to step in front of a shot. “Whenever you block a shot, you never really second guess or hesitate,'' he said. “For me, it's something I've been doing my whole career. I've had some close calls — nothing like (Saturday) — but I'm going to go about it the same way.'' Thompson briefly returned to Saturday's game, taking three shifts in the second period before heading to the locker room for the remainder of the night. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper doesn't have any worries about Thompson losing the edge to his game. “He's a tough kid, and this isn't a situation where we are saying, 'Nate, you have to come back and play,''' Cooper said. “This is a situation if you are 100 percent confident in coming back. He was letting me know the other night he might have been OK to play, but he just wanted a little time to relax and get his head straight.''
Thompson says injury won't change his style
Tampa Tribune | Apr 17