TAMPA — Captain Vinny Lecavalier conceded that his bruised left foot has been hindering him the past month, something that was obvious on the stat sheet.
In eight games before the center took a slap shot from teammate Sami Salo flush off the foot Feb. 2 against the Rangers, the center had four goals and 11 points. In 14 games since, he has two goals and nine points.
"It was tough for him," coach Guy Boucher said Thursday. "It affects his push-off, his timing. He was just trying to survive out there."
Boucher said he considered sitting Lecavalier for a few games to let him heal. But Lecavalier, 32, said that discussion did not go far.
"You want to be part of it," he said. "You want to keep pushing through as a player. Ask any guy in this room. If the same thing happened, they would do the same thing. They'd want to keep playing and want to keep going."
There are signs Lecavalier is mending. He has three assists over his previous three games, and his two-assist effort Tuesday against the Devils was his best all-around game since he was hurt.
Against the Jets on Thursday, he had 22:01 of ice time, four shots on goal and won 13 of 18 faceoffs.
"When Vinny is at his best, it makes a difference," Boucher said.
"It's getting stronger," Lecavalier said. "It's getting better every day, for sure."
MALONE PLAYS: LW Ryan Malone played after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury.
"It feels good," he said before the game. "We just took our time and went about the rehab properly. So it feels good, and I'm excited to be back."
Malone, 33, was hurt prior to the Feb. 10 game at the Rangers when during pregame soccer warmups he aggravated an existing condition. It took longer than expected to return, Malone said, because the team wanted him completely healed.
Since coming to Tampa Bay in 2008-09, Malone has not played more than 70 games in a season.
"You want to do everything you can to help the team," he said. "But you want to do everything you can to make sure you don't get injured again."
Malone, with four goals and six points in 11 games, showed no ill effects with 19:26 of ice time Thursday and winning a race for the puck to get a secondary assist on Steven Stamkos' goal.
INJURY REPORT: Mathieu Garon's MRI exam on the lower-body injury that knocked him out of Monday's game with the Penguins was clear, the goalie said. He is on injured reserve retroactive to Monday. The first game for which he potentially is available is Tuesday at Florida.
BONDING: LW Cory Conacher had nothing bad to say about the head shot he took Tuesday from New Jersey's Cam Janssen. In fact, the rookie said of the hit that caused no damage: "It was my fault for not guarding myself better and expecting the hit."
Janssen got two minutes for charging, and there was no supplementary discipline by the league. He was, however, confronted after the hit by Tampa Bay D Victor Hedman.
"I thought it was dirty," Hedman said. "So obviously, I want to step in there and prove a point that he's not doing that to one of our skill guys."
"You have to appreciate him doing that," Conacher said. "It's the type of teammate you want."
NICE SENTIMENT: Terry Crisp, the Lightning first coach and now a television analyst for the Predators, was honored as part of Tampa Bay's 20th anniversary celebration, and he reveled in the spotlight.
"I coached for 20-plus years. And I've been called a lot of things, and some of them I deserved," Crisp said. "But the nicest thing they call me is I'm an original Lightning, and that sticks pretty nice, I'll tell you."
ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning won 61 percent of faceoffs against the Jets. … C Adam Hall and defensemen Brendan Mikkelson and Marc-Andre Bergeron were scratched.