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Thompson: 'I never could've envisioned that'

Nate Thompson will always have a special connection to Madison Square Garden

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

MONTREAL - There's something extra special about scoring your first career NHL goal at Madison Square Garden.

That was the case for veteran Nate Thompson on November 4, 2008, when he was still a member of the New York Islanders.

It was a rather unique goal, though. Fast forward to the 1:44 mark of the clip below to check it out, and you'll see what we mean.

Watch: Youtube Video

"I never could've envisioned that. It was one of those things where I was trying to make a good pass and saw the puck in the air, cut to the net and just got perfect wood on it," recalled Thompson, who paced his squad to a 1-0 lead with the short-handed tally en route to a 2-1 victory over the Rangers. "After I scored, you kind of see my celebration. I was almost in shock a little bit and excited at the same time. Even if it wasn't my first career goal, I wouldn't have forgotten that one. It's always nice to go back and play there."

The fact that he solved one of the League's elite goaltenders isn't lost on Thompson either.

Five-time All-Star and Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist wasn't easy to beat back then, and he still isn't now.

"He's a future Hall of Famer," said Thompson. "It's always nice to have that as a feather in your cap."

And he also takes tremendous pride in the fact that he lit the lamp while the Islanders were down a man.

"Being a penalty killer, it was kind of fitting in a way that it was short-handed," mentioned Thompson, the Canadiens' third-most utilized forward in short-handed situations thus far this season. "It's one of those things that I've done my whole career."

Admittedly, Thompson was relieved to scratch that first goal off his to-do list in just his 16th career NHL game.

Knowing full well what defenseman Victor Mete went through to accomplish that objective, he wouldn't wish that on anyone.

"You don't want to have that first goal looming too long. You saw with Meat, sometimes it can loom over you for a while," joked Thompson. "You don't want that to happen, so it was nice to get it early."

One other thing comes to mind when the 35-year-old Anchorage, AK native thinks back to that notable moment in Manhattan.

"I remember that it was the night Barack Obama was elected the first time," said Thompson. "That was just a cool side fact."

Praise from Pock

While the primary assist on Thompson's goal went to forward Frans Nielsen, the secondary helper belonged to defenseman Thomas Pock.

Pock, who retired from professional hockey, has nothing but good memories of playing alongside Thompson on Long Island.

The 37-year-old Austrian affirmed everything we've come to know about "Uncle Nate" since he joined the Canadiens in February.

"He was a great guy and a good teammate, and obviously his work ethic and the way he put the team in front of his own needs all the time was one of his best qualities," said Pock. "That's the way he's played his whole career. When I watched him wherever he went, that's the type of player he was on every team. He always stays true to it, and it brought him a lot of success. It's nice for him to be able to still play at that level and do as well as he does."

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