Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning's Ryan Malone says GM Steve Yzerman inspired his goal against the Jets

TAMPA — Lightning LW Ryan Malone once saw a video clip of GM Steve Yzerman, then with the Red Wings, flip a puck over a defenseman to score into an empty net. That, Malone said, was the inspiration for the imaginative goal he scored against the Jets on Saturday.

Said Yzerman, "He took it to a whole other level."

Malone not only flipped the puck high over the head of Winnipeg's Grant Clitsome, he zoomed around the defenseman, who fell to give Malone a breakaway on which he scored with a terrific deke on G Ondrej Pavelec.

"I just figured I'd try to flip it over him," Malone said of Clitsome. "In the new NHL, you really can't really interfere, so then it becomes a race for the puck and he has to turn around. Lucky, I was able to get it before he did."

It was another good game for Malone, who also scored 7:25 into the third period to send the game to overtime at 2-2 and has five goals in his past two games. He also has 10 goals, 20 points in his past 22 games.

"He's been great," Yzerman said. "Every part of the game he's been playing well."

Part of that is he is finally healthy, and it is no coincidence his streak began after he missed eight games with an upper-body injury. "I feel pretty good," he said. "I feel healthy. I'm more involved in the game, and you create more chances that way."

Creatively, too.

"It was a great play," C Steven Stamkos said of Malone's maneuver. "He outsmarted everyone on the ice — the old dump and chase but took it to a new level. I don't know if he's been practicing his golf game lately, but that looked like a good 60-degree wedge. He was our best player."

DEBUT: RW J.T. Brown, the college free agent who made his NHL debut against the Jets, got some pointers from Lecavalier at the morning skate.

"Definitely surreal talking to the guys who have established themselves," Brown said.

What advice was given? "I tried not to give him too much," Lecavalier said, "just some simple things we do in the offensive zone. I know he's a fast player, so just use his speed. He's got so many things to think about, so just keep it simple."

Coach Guy Boucher said he wasn't going to baby Brown, 21, and after the game said he did not have to as Brown had two shots in 13:33 of ice time.

"He's a competitor who can do plays at a high pace," Boucher said. "To throw him in there with top-end guys to get that much ice time and make plays at that speed, it takes a special player."

"Just go out and play," Brown said. "You can't think about it too much. It's still playing hockey. You're still playing the game you know how to play."

ONE IS DONE: Brown's two-year contract includes this season and ends after 2012-13. Why not have the deal kick in next season, when Tampa Bay would get true value for a contract year? Because the five games Brown plays this season — not to mention the service time toward becoming a free agent — were a lure in contract negotiations.

MEDICAL MATTERS: C Nate Thompson (upper body) played after missing seven games.

ODDS AND ENDS: Bucs coach Greg Schiano was on the ice before the game in a Lightning jersey. … C Trevor Smith and defensemen Bruno Gervais and Mike Commodore were healthy scratches.

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