TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning won for the first time in almost seven months.
Ryan Malone had three goals, including the go-ahead score midway through the third period, and the Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 on Saturday night.
“From Day 1 he has been ready to go,” Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said.
Malone made it 3-2 from the slot with 9:14 to play after receiving a nifty pass from Martin St. Louis. After Steve Downie extended the Tampa Bay advantage to 4-2 on a power-play goal at the 13-minute mark, Malone completed his hat trick with an empty-netter with 1:16 remaining.
Paul Ranger also scored for the Lightning (1-1-2), who stopped a 12-game losing streak – including four losses in overtime or a shootout – dating to last season. It was Tampa Bay’s first win since beating Columbus 2-1 on March 24.
“The guys did a good job of keeping it even keel,” Malone said. “That’s what it’s all about. So it’s good to see everybody come together and get two points.”
Carolina got goals from Eric Staal and Rod Brind’Amour. The Hurricanes were called for seven minor penalties.
“I don’t know what it is, if the referees don’t like our new coach or what, but we’ve been the least-penalized team the last couple years,” Staal said. “We’ve got to find a way and make sure we stay out of that box.”
Ranger stopped a personal 22-game goal-scoring drought from just inside the blue line at 13:24 of the second, and then Malone put the Lightning up 2-1 just 15 seconds later on an in-close back-hander.
Carolina had taken a 1-0 lead on Staal’s wraparound goal during a second-period power play at 12:42. Brind’Amour tied it 2-2 with a power-play goal with 2:32 left in the second.
Brind’Amour has 1,168 career points, two away from tying Bobby Hull for 47th place.
St. Louis had two assists to extend his season-opening point streak to four games. He has five assists and seven points over the stretch.
“We could have won the last three games,” St. Louis said. “Keep playing together, I like our chances to be successful.”
Since the start of the 2005-06 season, Carolina is 39-20-4 against Tampa Bay and Florida. The Hurricanes beat the Panthers 7-2 on Friday.
“We feel we have a really good team, but we still haven’t gotten consistent 60-minute game,” Carolina left wing Jussi Jokinen said. “We need to be better.”
Tampa Bay’s Antero Niittymaki made 24 saves in first start of the season. Cam Ward stopped 34 shots for the Hurricanes.
Notes: Brind’Amour played in his 1,409th NHL game, tying him for 27th place all-time with Paul Coffey. … Carolina coach Paul Maurice coached his 900th NHL game. … Tampa Bay claimed LW Radek Smolenak off waivers from Chicago and assigned him to Norfolk of the AHL. … Hurricanes D Joni Pitkanen (sore knee) missed his second straight game. … Lightning C Vincent Lecavalier has not scored a goal in his last 11 games. … Tampa Bay D Kurtis Foster (lower body) didn’t play for the third consecutive game.