TAMPA — The Lightning believes a scar-tissue mass in the muscles in the back of Simon Gagne's neck is at least contributing to the nerve injury he has dealt with this season.
"Obviously, there's a lot of nerve involvement coming through that area," head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan said Tuesday. "We're kind of suspicious that's been causing his issues. So that's what we've been kind of working on, to treat the nerves that come up through the neck and keep that from compressing them."
Gagne missed Saturday's game at Ottawa after receiving from a Montreal doctor an injection of anesthetic and cortisone to "decrease the sensitivity" of the nerves, Mulligan said.
It is the same successful treatment Gagne received when he missed 18 games in October and November. Gagne, in the lineup against the Islanders, said he has had "ups and downs" with symptoms since then: "Some weeks I was feeling really good, other weeks I was stiff or sore."
The treatment is to ensure Gagne's readiness for the playoffs. "I know it's working," he said. "I feel really good."
But he apparently is stuck with the scar tissue, which Mulligan said formed when Gagne, while with the Flyers, took prolotherapy injections from a private physician treating his concussion symptoms. According to prolotherapy.org, the injections trigger healing by inflaming the affected area.
"The doctor in Montreal took a look at it," Gagne said of the scar tissue. "It's nothing dangerous. It's solid. He said there's nothing to do. Just leave it there. 'It's not going to take away anything from you, but you're going to have it the rest of your life.' "
As for getting back in the game, Gagne, who has a disappointing 12 goals and 28 points in 54 games but two goals and six points in his past four, said he is ready.
"You want to finish strong," he said before going minus-3 Tuesday. "Whatever happened during the season, it's all gone. Playoffs are starting. It doesn't matter if you have 50 goals or 10, you start at zero again. That's the real games. I'm ready for that."
900 AND COUNTING: Mattias Ohlund played his 900th NHL game. Said the defenseman, 34 and in his 13th season: "I'm just enjoying every day."
SLOW RECOVERY: Two weeks into a four- to six-week rehabilitation, D Randy Jones, out with a high ankle sprain, finally has his emotions in check.
"I don't handle injuries too well," he said.
Especially this fluky one, sustained March 7 against the Capitals when his left skate caught in a rut in the ice. "I know it's part of the game, but I get frustrated," Jones said. "I had some family in town. They just stayed clear of me. I needed a few days to get it out of my system."
MINOR MOVE: Free-agent G Pat Nagle signed a two-year deal. Nagle, 23, was 18-14-5 in 37 games this season for Ferris State with a 2.02 GAA and .923 save percentage.
ODDS AND ENDS: Coach Guy Boucher said RW Steve Downie (ankle/knee) is on track to play Friday against the Hurricanes. W Ryan Malone (mid body) could be ready March 31 against the Penguins.