After the Lightning turned to Anders Lindback in six of the first seven games, Mathieu Garon got the nod in goal Saturday night in the second of rare home games on consecutive nights.
The start was the first for Garon since he beat Carolina on Jan. 22, a game in which he made 35 stops in a 4-1 victory.
"His last game, he had a .967 (save percentage) so he deserved to be back there before that,'' Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "But we have a youngster that we are trying to groom and trying to give him some ice time. There were some games I probably could have thrown Mathieu out there, but the plan is to give the young guy as many games as we can so that he can catch up on the games he has missed the past two years.''
Lindback entered the season with 38 games in two NHL seasons while playing behind Pekka Rinne in Nashville. To this point, Boucher said Lindback has done well under the heavier-than-normal workload.
"He's just very, very upbeat and works so hard and has an unbelievable attitude,'' Boucher said. "It's not just skill, he's got the whole package. He would have taken (Saturday's) game for sure, but I feel that Mathieu has waited long enough, too long maybe, for what he deserved.''
Late to the party
C Nate Thompson registered his first point of the season during Friday's win against Winnipeg, becoming the 14th Bolts player to score a goal this season. But Thompson also was the last Lightning forward to play in more than one game this season to register a point.
That had some of his teammates giving him some friendly ribbing.
"Some guys talk about it, but not really,'' Thompson said. "My job isn't really to score goals but just to chip in. It is magnified when everyone else is scoring and we're getting a lot of goals in every game, so it is nice to get a bonus goal and help out. But at the same time I'm worried about playing my game.''
The only two skaters for the Lightning who have appeared in a game without registering a point entering Saturday were D Brian Lee and LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie, though Labrie has appeared in only one of the first eight games.
D Sami Salo went into Saturday night's game leading the NHL with a plus-11 rating, but it's his leadership in the dressing room and in the defensive zone that has impressed Boucher the most.
Salo, who joined the Lightning after signing a two-year, $7.5 million contract in July, has helped fill the void left by the loss of Mattias Ohlund, who has been out since the beginning of last year with a knee injury.
"Ohlund was a gigantic loss for us,'' Boucher said. "He was kind of the daddy in the room, because he had the experience and was always calm in storms, and I think that's what Sami's bringing here already.''
Salo, who turned 38 in September, is usually matched against an opponent's top offensive line. In addition to working the point on the Lightning's top power-play unit, he's helping mentor young D Victor Hedman.
"He has certainly helped Victor with his assertiveness and his game,'' Boucher said of Salo. "He's a guy who has just lived a lot and had a lot of positive experiences, and you can just feel the difference when he's in there.''
Nuts and Bolts
The Lightning had scored at least a goal in seven consecutive periods before being held off the board in the first period Saturday. … C Steven Stamkos has goals in five consecutive games and has a point in every game this season. … C Tom Pyatt faced off against his brother, Rangers LW Taylor Pyatt. … D Brendan Mikkelson skated briefly Saturday morning, two days after a scary crash into the end boards during practice. … Former Lightning coach John Tortorella and C Brad Richards were honored on the video board during the first period as part of the team's 20th anniversary season celebration. Both were voted by fans to be included in the top 20 team personnel members.
Erik Erlendsson, Roy Cummings