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'BOSTON STRONG' GETS LIGHTNING AID TONIGHT

Lightning C Nate Thompson was drafted by the Bruins in 2003, spent three-plus seasons in the organization and has been at the Boston Marathon finish line.

So, when bombs went off at the marathon finish line April 15, the shock, he said, "really hit home."

He is proud Tampa Bay players will wear "Boston Strong" ribbon stickers on their helmets to salute the city during tonight's game with the Bruins at TD Garden.

"Every team in the league has been great and very proactive about it, just showing the people of Boston and everyone in the nation that hockey is much more than a game," Thompson said Wednesday. "There's more than just playing hockey. It's about people. It's about a nation coming together and everyone supporting each other."

Players will sign their helmets, which will be auctioned at nhl.com. Proceeds will go to One Fund Boston, which has raised more than $20 million for those directly affected by the bombings.

"Obviously, we realize there are bigger things going on in the world than just hockey," said F Alex Killorn, who attended Harvard and knows someone who sustained minor flash burns from the explosions. "For us to show our support for Boston is a great thing."

MALONE OUT: LW Ryan Malone is the first to say he has not played well lately. His turnovers in the April 18 3-2 loss to the Canadiens and Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes cost Tampa Bay goals. So, it was no surprise Malone was scratched Wednesday against the Maple Leafs.

The question is how much his injured left shoulder has contributed to his troubles. And did Malone return too quickly after being injured March 18 by a legal, though unnecessary, check from Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo?

"Did he come back maybe too soon to try to get in, a new coach, a new era? He probably did," coach Jon Cooper said. "I have to give him a lot of credit for that. I feel bad. The kid has just been battling though injuries."

Malone missed 13 games from Feb. 10-March 5 with a lower-body injury sustained in a pregame soccer warmup. He missed nine games after the Rinaldo hit.

Malone said the shoulder is not 100 percent but had no excuses for, as he said, "not bringing anything to the table" in his seven games back. "You come back to help out any way you can," he said. "Things just snowballed. You lose some confidence and end up becoming a player you don't want to be."

ADDITIONALLY: D Mathieu Roy, signed for the rest of the season, cleared waivers and can join the team today. That would seem to allow D Radko Gudas and RW Richard Panik to be sent to AHL Syracuse for the playoffs.

That decision won't be made until after the Bruins game, Cooper said: "We'll see where we're at ... with the last game of the year (Saturday), protection against injuries and potentially helping out Syracuse. We're keeping our options open because we don't want to be short at the end of the year."

ODDS AND ENDS: G Anders Lindback is expected to start against the Bruins. ... G Mathieu Garon also was scratched. ... There is a watch party tonight at Guy Harvey Outpost, 6000 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach.

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