TAMPA — Had circumstances been different, Thursday's game would have included a notable encounter. But Tampa Bay D Kurtis Foster was a healthy scratch, and San Jose C Torrey Mitchell, on long-term injured reserve with left knee tendinitis, did not make the trip.
The two have not been on the ice together since March 19, 2008, in San Jose, where Foster, then with the Wild and because of a careless play by Mitchell, broke his left leg, requiring surgery and costing him all but 10 games of 2008-09.
The injury occurred as Foster raced to create an icing. A push from behind by Mitchell sent Foster into the end boards, his leg broken so badly a steel rod was needed to stabilize it.
"I spoke to him right after the injury," Foster said. "He called me and wished me well and apologized almost too much. I told him not to worry about it. I knew he wasn't trying to hurt me. It was an uncareful thing to do, but things happen in games."
But that doesn't mean Foster has forgotten.
He said he begged off returning to action last season in San Jose because it felt "a little weird," and said finally playing there will be emotional.
"I remember I practiced there last year, and it was weird going back to that same spot," Foster said. "Anybody can tell you they try to forget, but they never really do. You've got to move on, though. I feel pretty good. I don't feel tentative. I don't feel nervous. Just go out there and hope for the best."
BOYLE-ING HOT: It has been almost 16 months since the Lightning traded Dan Boyle to the Sharks, and apparently, there are still raw emotions when it comes to Tampa Bay co-owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie.
Asked if he takes any satisfaction in Tampa Bay's struggles, the defenseman, part of Tampa Bay's 2004 Stanley Cup team who signed a six-year extension about four months before the trade, said:
"Knowing some of the guys I do know, I don't wish them anything bad. I want them to succeed. But selfishly, part of me, obviously, still has a problem with the guys up top."
That said, Boyle added, "There always will be a soft spot in my heart for Tampa."
As for how the Lightning played, Boyle, who scored his second goal of the season, said, "They are much improved from last year. They came out hard."
TOKARSKI RISING: It didn't take long for G Dustin Tokarski, one season from juniors, to pass Riku Helenius and earn the No. 1 job for AHL Norfolk.
"I expected that," organizational goaltenders coach Cap Raeder said. "He makes it simple. He has an economy of motion, and he has the ability to play a lot of games."
Tokarski, 20, who helped Canada to last year's world junior championship, is 2-2 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.
"There are going to be some bumps in the road," Raeder said. "But he's a good one."
ODDS AND ENDS: D Matt Smaby (upper body) is skating, but has not been cleared to play. … Koules is in Hollywood for the premiere of Saw VI, which he produced. … D Lukas Krajicek also was scratched.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at email@example.com