Malone scored 4:09 into overtime to give Tampa Bay a 4-3 victory against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.
Malone, who assisted on Brett Clark's power-play goal early in the second and Steven Stamkos' man-advantage tally in the third, flipped a loose puck past Carey Price as Tampa Bay came back twice to spoil Montreal's home opener.
"He was a force out there," Boucher said. "I love that guy. I think he's outstanding. He's real smart. I didn't know before coming in how smart he was. He plays the penalty kill, the power play, five-on-five, he's reliable, pays the price in front of the team's net, he blocks shots, so he's one of those guys that you need to win those games in tight moments."
Stamkos had two points, including his third goal in two games late in the third period that sent the game into overtime.
"We have a lot of character in this dressing room," St. Louis said. "We've gone through a lot the last couple of years but we battled. To be able to battle in a building like this early on in the season and get a victory like this, it's a great sign."
Price stopped 43 shots for Montreal (1-1-1).
Several items were thrown onto the ice by the Bell Centre crowd after Stamkos scored. Canadiens fans were venting as much over the slashing call on P.K. Subban at 17:48 that gave Tampa Bay its sixth power play as they were for an apparent trip by Malone on Montreal forward Dustin Boyd that went unpunished right before the tying goal.
"I was grabbing the rebound and was going to get the puck out and he just took me out," Boyd said.
Price, who delivered a second successive strong outing, didn't make excuses.
"It's just a break in the game," Price said. "They got it and we didn't."
"I thought we had too many penalties," Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. "There was a lack of discipline in our play. This league is too close and you can't give that many opportunities away."
Stamkos, who scored 51 goals last season to tie Sidney Crosby for the NHL title, tied it at 3 with 1:19 left in the third. The 20-year-old center scored his third of the season with Smith on the bench for an extra attacker and Subban in the penalty box.
|More on Bolts at Canadiens|
"The refs have a job to do," Martin said. "We have to look at things we can control. With two minutes left when you check a player, your stick has to be on the ice. These lessons you learn from experience."
Tampa Bay's Adam Hall put a shot off the left post with 49 seconds left in regulation.
Price, Montreal's uncontested No. 1 goalie after playoff star Jaroslav Halak was dealt to St. Louis, turned aside 36 shots in a 3-2 win in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
He had little chance as St. Louis drew Tampa Bay even at 2 with his first goal 10:54 into the third.
Kostitsyn scored his first to restore Montreal's one-goal lead at 11:25.
The Canadiens took advantage of a turnover by Vernance to strike early. Lapierre scored unassisted 5:22 in when he intercepted the puck in the right circle and snapped a wrist shot past Smith into the top left corner.
Plekanec increased the lead to 2-0 with his first of the season during 4-on-4 play at 18:07. Michael Cammalleri chased down his own rebound and passed to Plekanec, who was left alone in the right circle to send a slap shot into the gaping open side.
After going 0 for 3 on the power play in the first, Tampa Bay connected on the man advantage early in the second.
Clark got credit for his first of the season 1:44 into the second period. The Lightning drew within one after the defenseman's slap shot from the point struck Montreal's Tom Pyatt on its way past Price.
Lapierre was given a boarding major 15:58 into the second for a dangerous hit on Steve Downie that sent the Lightning forward flying into the boards.
- Lightning coach Guy Boucher and assistants Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix filled the same positions with Montreal's AHL affiliate in Hamilton last season.
- Montreal D Roman Hamrlik made his season debut after missing the first two games recovering from a knee injury.
- It was the Canadiens' 101st home opener.