TAMPA — Steven Stamkos said he is so focused on the now — "on what we have to do to help this team win" — he sometimes loses track of all that happened in the past.
"I just lose the fact there were so many steps it took to get back," the Lightning captain said. "But when I do have time to reflect on it, it was a pretty long haul."
About four months to be exact, the time it took to rehab from a fractured right tibia that required surgery to fix and the insertion of a titanium rod to facilitate healing.
With 10 goals and 15 points in 17 games since his return from an injury that likely won't be completely healed until next season, Stamkos, 24, is the nominee of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association for the Masterton Trophy given for perseverance and dedication.
"It's a great honor," said the center, injured Nov. 11 when he slid into a goalpost in Boston. "When all is said and done in your career you want to be known as a guy who loved the game, is dedicated and worked extremely hard."
Because of the injury Stamkos could not play for Canada at the Olympics. He also had to deal with his own emotions and team upheaval after the trade on March 5 of his long-time teammate and one of his best friends, Marty St. Louis, to the Rangers.
But it was the work he put in to make such rapid recovery from injury and return to a high caliber of play that earned Stamkos the nomination.
"It was a lot of days when you woke up knowing there was going to be some pain, but the pain was going to be for the better," Stamkos said. At the same time there are guys in the past and guys who have dealt with much bigger issues than what I went through. When you put it on a scale like that it's still an honor, but a lot of guys would do the same thing to get back and be with their teammates."
Salo injured: D Sami Salo left Tuesday's game against Toronto in the second period with an undisclosed injury. No other information was available.
PROGRESS: D Mike Kostka, who sustained a concussion from an elbow to the jaw April 1 against the Canadiens, was on the ice during Tuesday's morning skate in a red no-contact jersey.
Kostka said his symptoms, generally, were relatively minor, mostly dizziness and headaches.
"I feel like I've been pretty fortunate," he said, though there still is no timetable for his return.
MISS HIT: D Radko Gudas said he still doesn't know what he did to deserve a match penalty Saturday against the Stars for an illegal check to the head.
If anything, he said, Dallas' Antoine Roussel skated, head down, into him from behind.
"I saw him coming," said Gudas, who received no supplemental discipline from the league. "He's going to be running at me and he's going to be hitting me if I touch the puck first, so I'm going to make myself strong and I wanted to turn fast. I don't know what he was doing there."
ODDS AND ENDS: Ondrej Palat's 57 points, with 22 goals, tied Valtteri Filppula for the team lead. … Filppula won 17 of 23 faceoffs against Toronto … Forwards B.J. Crombeen, Cody Kunyk and Ryan Malone, and defensemen Keith Aulie and Mark Barberio were scratched.