It was somewhat surprising that Malone was able to return quickly from the injury suffered on a hit from Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo.
As of last week, Malone was only doing light skating without pads.
“The process just seemed to pick up every day,'' Malone said. “There has been improvements, and it's all you can ask for. … It's time to come back.''
Malone was not the only player back in the lineup. LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie returned after missing six games with an upper-body injury suffered on March 24 in Winnipeg.
With Malone and Labrie back, LW Benoit Pouliot was a surprise healthy scratch after taking morning-line rushes with C Steven Stamkos and RW Marty St. Louis.
G Anders Lindback, out with a high ankle sprain suffered March 20 in Toronto, took part in Tuesday's morning skate, his first since being placed on injured reserve.
Lindback said he had no limitations and is close to returning.
D Victor Hedman, meanwhile, has not been on the ice since suffering an undisclosed lower body injury Thursday in Carolina. Head coach Jon Cooper ruled Hedman out for Thursday's home game against Pittsburgh.
With an assist on Vinny Lecavalier's power-play goal in the second period, St. Louis registered his 900th career point and moved into a tie with Tony Amonte for 97th on the all-time scoring list.
Next on the list is Scott Stevens, who sits in 96th place with 908 career points.
Less than a week after being dealt to Ottawa for G Ben Bishop, LW Cory Conacher made his return to Tampa to face the Lightning for the first time.
The 23-year-old Calder Trophy candidate, who helped lead Tampa Bay's farm team to a title last season, admitted having mixed emotions following the trade as well as heading into his first game against a team that features six former teammates from the AHL championship squad.
“Those are guys that I've played with a long time. I built relationships with a lot of those guys, and there are more and more guys getting called up, which makes it worse,” Conacher said. “But it will be fun. Off the ice we are friends, and on the ice it's just going to be a battle. No hard feelings. I want to win, this team (Ottawa) wants to win, so I'm going to finish my checks and do those little things to help the team win.”
Bishop went through the same emotional roller coaster in the past week and as he prepared to face his former team for the first time while getting his fourth start in six days with the Lightning.
“Once the puck drops it pretty much becomes a normal game and you don't really think too much about it. But this is the first time I've played against an ex-team, so that is a first for me,'' Bishop said. “For me, as soon as the puck does drop, all those distractions and stuff go away.''
To cap off the week, Bishop returned to Ottawa on Monday morning to gather his belongings before returning late Monday.
The 23-year-old, a sixth-round pick in 2008, was named the top defenseman in the AHL last season.
“It's time to get Mark in there. He has done everything we have asked of him in the American League for three years,” Cooper said. “We are pulling up guys that have earned the right to be here, and Mark certainly has been that guy.”
Barberio will become the eighth player to make his NHL debut in a Lightning jersey this season, including Conacher.
“It was unbelievable (to get the phone call),” he said. Assistant general manager Julien BriseBois called Monday, and I immediately called my dad and my mom, and they (were) able to get here and watch the game.”