Not even Ryan Malone can believe the irony -- the only two NHL franchises he has known meeting in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

He is nearly three years removed from being traded by the Penguins to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The June 2008 deal occurred only weeks after Malone, an Upper St. Clair native and the first Pittsburgh-born player in Penguins history, removed his jersey after a Game 6 loss at Civic Arena that ended the Stanley Cup Final.

"I don't like to think about that one moment too much," he said of the silence inside the Penguins dressing room after that defeat. "Then again, it's also something you don't want to forget because it makes you want to get back all that much more."

Malone, a father of two, just wrapped the third season of his six-year deal with the Lightning. He has played for the Cup and an Olympic gold medal, but he realizes nothing can prepare him for the next two weeks.