Malone scores twice as Lightning jolt Ducks

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By Craig Shultz

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- One night after sending Rick

Tocchet into a seething rant about team character, the Tampa Bay

Lightning finally displayed the quality about which their

interim coach has been preaching.

Ryan Malone scored two goals, including the game-winner midway

through the third period, as the Lightning bounced back from a

lethargic effort by edging the Anaheim Ducks, 4-3, on Friday.

Martin St. Louis netted a goal and set up two others, Vaclav

Prospal also tallied and All-Star Vincent Lecavalier notched two

assists for the Lightning, who have won two of their last three

contests after dropping three straight. The lone blemish in the

current span came on Thursday, when the Phoenix Coyotes skated

to a 3-2 win and triggered Tocchet to slam his team's culture,

calling it "terrible."

Karri Ramo made 29 saves en route to his first win of the season

as the Lightning beat the Ducks at the Honda Center for the

first time since October 14, 2001 despite squandering a two-goal

lead in the second period.

"In the second period, we ran into some penalty problems and

Anaheim was really taking over," Tocchet said. "So when we got

our breath after the second period, I thought the guys showed

the stuff we were talking about - the will, the character to

will the win. That is the sort of stuff we are looking at right

there. That can go a long way for a lot of players when you win

games like that."

St. Louis believes Friday's game is something off which the team

can build.

"We haven't had as many wins as we'd like, but this one stands

out right now," St. Louis said.

Rookie Andrew Ebbett and defensemen Steve Montador and Chris

Pronger scored for Anaheim, which has dropped two in a row.

"Right now, we're not playing good-enough defense," Ducks coach

Randy Carlyle said. "Be it soft goals, soft defensive miscues,

faceoff plays, penalty-killing or whatever, it seems like right

now, for our group, defense has been the toughest word.

"Usually, that's one of our strongest suits, so that's what is

frustrating. I know that we can play a better team defensive

game, and that's what we have to do."

Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer said the team has been

inconsistent.

"That has been the story of the year so far," the All-Star

defenseman said. "Tonight, we definitely didn't play our best

game. Every chance they had, they seemed to put in the back of

the net on us. I guess that's the way it goes if you don't play

your best sometimes. You pay the price for it that way."

With the game even at 3-3, Jeff Halpern skated out from behind

the net and unleashed a shot, which was stopped by Jonas Hiller.

Halpern collected his own rebound and dished the puck to Malone,

who beat the Swiss goaltender with a wrist shot from the left

side of the net with 9:10 left in the third.

"We did a good job of cycling the puck there. We had a good

rotation," Malone said. "I kind of popped in the slot.

(Halpern) put the puck on net and I just tried to get to the net

as fast as I could for a rebound. I just tried to get it up

over his pads as quickly as I could."

St. Louis gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead just 3 1/2 minutes into the

contest by skating around Pronger and beating Hiller to the

glove side for a shorthanded tally.

"It's a big win for us tonight," St. Louis said. "To play with

this kind of effort, and with this kind of desperation and

urgency and hungriness, we may give ourselves a chance."

Prospal doubled the advantage 1:41 into the second. Lecavalier

sent a pass from the left faceoff circle to Prospal, who put the

puck past Hiller while stationed on the doorstep.

"The whole play started in our zone. We won the puck in our

corner and it was maybe just a 3-on-2 rush," Prospal said.

"Evgeny (Artyukhin) gave it to (Lecavalier) on the side of the

boards, and he cut in the middle. I went through the (defense)

and we confused their coverage. He just slid the puck the

opposite way from the goalie, and I was able to put my stick on

it to redirect it in."

Anaheim halved the deficit when Ebbett scored a power-play goal

seven minutes later, but Malone restored the two-goal advantage

with 2:09 left in the session.

However, the flurry of goals continued and Tampa Bay coughed up

its lead. The Ducks forged a tie late in the second as Montador

and Pronger scored in a 12-second span with less than two

minutes remaining.

Ramo was perfect in the final period, making eight saves to help

Tampa Bay improve to 6-5-2 in its last 13 contests.

"(Ramo) was solid," Prospal said. "He made key saves when he

had to. We didn't give him a lot of support in the 20 seconds

when we let them tie the game. It still was tied, and on the

road against a very good team, I think we just wanted it more

than they did tonight."

Hiller turned aside 15 shots one night after relieving All-Star

Jean-Sebastien Giguere midway through a 4-3 loss to the Los

Angeles Kings.

"They definitely had more jump than we did in the early going,

but then we turned the tide and momentum in our favor," Carlyle

said. "It just seemed that we just weren't able to grasp it

after the intermission between the second and third. You score

three goals in a hockey game, you should realistically win a lot

of those games."

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