WASHINGTON — Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he spoke to Ryan Malone and described the left wing as "probably a little embarrassed about what has gone on." But Cooper said the episode in which Malone early Saturday was arrested in Tampa and charged with DUI and cocaine possession will not distract the team as it enters the playoffs.
"Hockeywise we've had way more distractions worse than this one," Cooper said Sunday. "This is more of a life issue, more a friend of ours who we know is physically doing okay and hopefully the worst is over. As for hockey, this won't be a distraction at all for us."
Malone was pulled over and arrested after his Chevy Suburban hit a curb while turning from the center lane of S Armenia Avenue on to W Platt Street. A search revealed 1.3 grams of cocaine in his back right pocket, police said. They also said Malone's Breathalyzer results were 0.112 and 0.116; a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent is the threshold at which Florida law presumes someone is unable to safely drive.
"When you get into a situation like that, you'd like to make better decisions, and people have to deal with the consequences," captain Steven Stamkos said. "Whether it's hockey or in life and the mistakes people make, Ryan is a guy who's going to man up to it and deal with it to the best of his ability."
Said Cooper: "He made a poor decision getting behind the wheel when he had alcohol in his system. This has been a learning experience for him. We're really looking forward to getting him back at some point."
One step in that process is going through a substance abuse and behavioral health program run by the NHL and union.
INJURY BUG: Two of the Lightning's top scorers did not play in Sunday's 1-0 shootout win against the Capitals. LW Ondrej Palat (upper body) and C Valtteri Filppula (lower body) nursed injuries the team hopes will heal in time for the playoffs. Filppula, tied with Stamkos with a team-best 25 goals, was hurt Thursday against the Flyers. Palat, with a team-best 59 points, was hurt Friday against Columbus on a check from D Jack Johnson that included contact with Palat's head. "I can't sit here and say they're going to play Wednesday (in the playoff opener against Montreal), but they will be better Wednesday than (Sunday)," Cooper said.
MORE MEDICAL MATTERS: D Victor Hedman (lower body), D Sami Salo (upper body) and RW Teddy Purcell (flu) returned.
KUNYK IN: C Cody Kunyk, 23, signed last month out of the University of Alaska-Anchorage, made his NHL debut and had two shots and a block in 10:12 of ice time. "I liked his energy," Cooper said. "By no means did I sit here and say this kid looked out of place. He did a heck of a job." Said Kunyk: "The speed of the game was a lot faster, and guys were obviously stronger."
ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning's 46 wins tied the team mark set in 2003-04 and matched in 2010-11. … Tampa Bay's 101 points are third most in team history: 106 in 2003-04 and 103 in 2010-11. … G Ben Bishop (elbow); forwards B.J. Crombeen and Tom Pyatt, and defensemen Keith Aulie and Mark Barberio also were scratched.