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Victor Hedman refocuses for Tampa Bay Lightning after one-game benching

TAMPA — Lightning rookie D Victor Hedman said he benefited from his one-game benching Thursday and returned to the lineup Saturday with new focus.

"Mentally, it was good for me to get a look from up top," he said of watching the game against the Maple Leafs from the press box. "It looks so much easier up there. It was good — we had a day off (Friday), too — to clear my mind and think about everything except hockey."

Coach Rick Tocchet said the key for Hedman is to improve his decision-making — on when to rush forward and join the attack, when to stay back and avoid getting caught in no man's land. He was confident the break would help Hedman do that.

"I think he's really going to respond," Tocchet said Saturday morning. "He was really chipper today. You could tell that. Maybe it's a little bit of a weight off his shoulders just taking that game off. … The mistakes he was making were costing us at crucial times, and I think it was wearing on him."

POWER SURGE: The Lightning entered Saturday a robust 11-for-36 (30.6 percent) on the power play in its previous eight games.

Why?

"We went to two units," Tocchet said. "Before, I think we were loading up on the one unit. Since we've gone to two units, it's really worked. We've got the right shots in the right spots."

The team scored two power-play goals in the last nine minutes (including in overtime) against Toronto on Thursday to pull out a 3-2 win.

Tocchet also said that having two units has bred healthy competition and that's a plus, but perhaps the biggest factor has been that that success breeds the right kind of attitude.

"Just like an individual player can get on a roll, it's the same thing on the power play," C Vinny Lecavalier said. "Confidence is everything. If you feel you're going to score, you have more of a chance of scoring."

The Lightning scored on its first power-play chance (on a four-on-three) in Saturday's opening period against the Thrashers, on a shot from C Steven Stamkos. It was his 27th goal of the season and 10th on the power play.

A FRESH START: LW/C Nate Thompson has had little time to catch his breath since he was claimed off waivers from the Islanders on Thursday. He got the call just after noon that day, packed a bag, caught a flight to Tampa, made it to the St. Pete Times Forum in time to watch the game from the press box and practiced for the first time Saturday morning. Whew.

"It's been a little bit of a whirlwind," he said.

Thompson, who goes hard and tries to do the little things, was eager to show that in his Lightning debut against the Thrashers. He seemingly did what Tocchet had hoped, provide energy and help kill a penalty late in the second period to keep the score tied at 1.

SPECIAL EVENT: The team's eighth annual Glitz & Sticks charity event is 6-9 tonight at the Hyatt Regency Tampa. Proceeds benefit the Tampa General Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Lightning Foundation's annual grant program. Individual tickets are $150 and include casino chips. For information, contact the Lightning Foundation at (813) 301-6712 or go to tampabaylightning.com.

Victor Hedman refocuses for Tampa Bay Lightning after one-game benching 01/23/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 23, 2010 10:02pm]

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