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Tampa Bay's Ryan Malone Coming Home

Tampa Bay forward Ryan Malone's ties to Pittsburgh are well documented. The Upper St. Clair native broke into the NHL as a member of the Penguins in 2003-2004. He immediately become a fan favorite as he toiled for some bad Pittsburgh teams before the arrivals of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

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The 6'4" forward, selected by the Penguins in the fourth round of the 1999 draft, scored 87 goals during his time in black and gold before signing with the Lightning in free agency in 2008. The upcoming playoff series between his current and former teams will be his first since leaving Pittsburgh after the Pens' 2008 run to the Stanley Cup Final where they fell to the Detroit Red Wings.

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Though Malone admitted to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Shelly Anderson on Monday the return to Pittsburgh will be emotional, he's looking forward to it.

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"Every time you play against your old team, you have that weird feeling or whatever you want to call it. It will be fun to get a chance to play them in the playoffs," the power forward said.

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For that matter, he and his Tampa Bay teammates are thrilled to be back in the postseason against anyone, anywhere.

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"It will make me very happy to be back in the playoffs," Malone said. "I haven't had that chance since I was in Pitt. From that experience, that's what hockey is all about."

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Malone and the Lightning will take on the Penguins in the first game of their playoff series on Wednesday.

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Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.