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
“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
“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
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
“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.”