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Ryan Malone, Tampa Bay Lightning win 4-2 at New York Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The way it works with the Lightning is the first star of the game gets doused with water when he walks into the locker room.

Problem is, it is no longer a surprise. So Ryan Malone, who scored two goals and tied a career best with four points Monday night in Tampa Bay's 4-2 victory over the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum, was ready.

"I knew he was waiting," Malone said of teammate Zenon Konopka, "so I jammed (the water bottle) back at him. He got soaked."

And Malone got the glory. His goals broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Lightning (13-14-9) a second straight win to end a seasonlong six-game road trip 2-3-1.

"It's pretty big," Malone said.

Added goaltender Mike Smith, "It's huge."

Mostly because the four losses to start the trip were part of a broader downturn in which the team had won once in 11 games.

It would have been easy for the team to fold Monday after a bizarre first period in which Steven Stamkos, on a breakaway, hit a post, and Steve Downie and Todd Fedoruk were stopped by New York goaltender Dwayne Roloson on an incredible sequence.

Roloson was out of the net to play the puck when it took a strange bounce off the end boards to Downie. Roloson scrambled back and reached out with his stick to stop Downie's shot then somehow got his left skate on Fedoruk's rebound try, the back edge of the puck staying on the goal line.

But Stamkos' team-best 21st goal from in front of the net off a redirect of Marty St. Louis' pass tied the score at 1 6:20 into the second period, and Vinny Lecavalier's zinger into a top corner with 18.6 seconds left in the second made it 2-2.

That set up Malone, whose contributions included a power-play goal 2:48 into the third period off a Stamkos rebound and the final goal with 8:21 left that Malone said St. Louis "just passed off my stick into the net."

Smith backed it all up with 36 saves.

"It's almost like a reassurance for our team that if you do the right things you end up winning," coach Rick Tocchet said. "That's all. If you go on your own program and we lose games, it feels awful. But it's a hard-fought win, so the first guy to the 21st guy should feel good about the game."

Malone, whose six winners are tied for the league lead, should feel it on a personal level too. His 18 goals are second on the team, but he had just one in his previous 13 games.

"It's just the team," he said. "We have different guys who can step up every night. I got a couple of bounces tonight."

He got Konopka, too.

Lightning 0 2 2 4
Islanders 1 1 0 2
Lightning 0 2 2 4
Islanders 1 1 0 2

First Period—1, N.Y. Islanders, Hunter 6 (Bailey, Hillen), 16:47 (pp). PenaltiesHale, TB (hooking), 9:58; Downie, TB (hooking), 15:27; MacDonald, NYI (delay of game), 19:23.

Second Period2, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 21 (St. Louis, Malone), 6:20. 3, N.Y. Islanders, N.Thompson 1 (Okposo, Nielsen), 16:25. 4, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 9 (Tanguay, Malone), 19:41. PenaltiesFoster, TB (holding), :56; Hedman, TB (delay of game), 16:46; Tavares, NYI (tripping), 17:23.

Third Period5, Tampa Bay, Malone 17 (Stamkos, Foster), 2:48 (pp). 6, Tampa Bay, Malone 18 (St. Louis, Lecavalier), 11:39 (pp). PenaltiesHillen, NYI (delay of game), 2:37; Szczechura, TB (delay of game), 7:43; Sutton, NYI (interference), 11:00; Smaby, TB (cross-checking), 16:51. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 6-14-8—28. N.Y. Islanders 13-15-10—38. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 2 of 4; N.Y. Islanders 1 of 6. GoaliesTampa Bay, M.Smith 6-9-5 (38 shots-36 saves). N.Y. Islanders, Roloson 11-7-5 (28-24). A10,864 (16,234). T2:23. Referees—Dan O'Halloran, Ghislain Hebert. LinesmenDerek Amell, Pierre Champoux.

Ryan Malone, Tampa Bay Lightning win 4-2 at New York Islanders 12/21/09 [Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 11:41pm]
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