Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Another new line for Malone

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Lightning LW Ryan Malone still is looking for a place to call home.

Bounced around this season from the first line to the fourth and, for Thursday night's game with the Sharks, to the second, Malone has been Tampa Bay's most movable part while he tries to regain his scoring touch.

"You only want to be on a winning team, so whatever I can do to help out," Malone said. "We have young guys coming up, we have a lot of depth, so wherever I can fit in is good. I'm willing to do whatever it takes."

Malone has received much praise from coach Jon Cooper and teammates for accepting whatever role he is put in and for defending his teammates; a Nov. 14 fight with Anaheim's Bryan Allen was retaliation, Malone said, for Allen trying to knee Ondrej Palat.

Still, for a player with six 20-goal seasons, Malone's three goals and nine points in 21 games entering Thursday were not what was expected. He is off the power play and had played 10 minutes only twice in his previous seven games.

"Obviously, I'd rather be on the power play and play more," Malone said. "But it is what it is. It's my job to be ready for those opportunities if they come around."

Malone began the season on the first line with C Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis. He has been on the fourth line with C Nate Thompson and B.J. Crombeen. Against the Sharks, he played with C Alex Killorn and J.T. Brown. "However you're trying to put the puzzle together, you always want to contribute any way you can," Malone said.

LINE DANCING: In addition to Malone's new line, Cooper put C Valtteri Filppula on the first line with St. Louis and Teddy Purcell. The third line — the Kid Line — remained C Tyler Johnson, Palat and Richard Panik. The fourth line was Thompson, Crombeen and Brett Connolly.

MAKING AN IMPRESSION: D Dmitry Korobov, 24, in his NHL debut Tuesday against the Kings, played 13:21. He didn't have a shot, and his puck control and gaps against rushing opponents could improve. But Korobov, 6 feet 3, 230 pounds, still made quite an impression on Cooper, who said if the defenseman "continues his development, he's going to end up taking somebody's spot because he's a big, thick body. I don't see too many guys making (Kings RW) Dustin Brown come off the ice short of breath, and he did it. He did a good job."

PRAISE: St. Louis playing his 1,000th game Tuesday still was a hot topic Thursday. "Marty is the ultimate competitor," Sharks and former Lightning D Dan Boyle said. "I respect him so much. To see what he's doing, still, is not surprising to me, because I know how hard he works. He'll be in the Hall of Fame for sure, and he deserves it." Said Lightning D Matt Carle: "He's the epitome of hard work and talent and kind of the engine that never quits."

ODDS AND ENDS: G Ben Bishop turned 27 on Thursday. … D Andrej Sustr and LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie were scratched. … D Keith Aulie (upper body) and F Tom Pyatt (collarbone) continued skating with red no-contact jerseys.

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