TAMPA — Lightning G Mike Smith said he considered staying in Tuesday's game with the Capitals after he was run over by Brooks Laich even though his neck was sore and the black dots that affected his vision last season while recovering from post-concussion syndrome were acting up.
"The competitive nature comes out in me," Smith said Thursday. "But after I got back in there and the play started moving again, I said maybe we go on the caution side this time.
"I knew it wasn't what it was last year, but if I kept going, it could end up like that. I didn't want that to happen."
Smith last season played seven weeks with concussion symptoms before telling the team, and ended up needing eight months for recovery. The diagnosis Tuesday: a simple neck strain trainer Tommy Mulligan called more of a spasm. Smith is day to day.
Smith, who was hurt in the first period and took himself out of the game in the second, laughed when reminded he stumbled twice during play after he was hit. That led to speculation he was light-headed. Smith jokingly blamed his clumsiness on "a bad skate-sharpening job."
"That's just me playing the game like I play it sometimes," he said. "I lose an edge, and sometimes I just fall down. That had nothing to do with the hit.
"The main thing was I got a stinging feeling in my neck."
But Smith, 5-2-1 in his past nine games with a 2.60 goals-against average and .920 save percentage, admitted his vision also was affected.
"You know those black dots I told you about? They're still lingering around, and when something gets tightened up in the back of my neck, those tend to get a little worse. Right now, it's just getting my neck feeling better, and that will take care of all the rest of the things going on with my vision."
Smith, who hasn't skated in two days while receiving stretching, chiropractic work and massage treatments, said he is planning to accompany the team on a three-game road trip that begins Saturday in Florida. Short term, Dustin Tokarski is up from AHL Norfolk to back up Antero Niittymaki.
"When he's comfortable and has full motion and can tolerate it, if there is any pain, he can get back out there," Mulligan said.
Said coach Rick Tocchet: "It's too bad. He was playing good hockey for us. He just needs a little rest here to get himself back. He's going to be fine. I don't want to rush him."
SMABY CONCUSSED: D Matt Smaby said he sustained a concussion Saturday when he slid into the sideboards in Philadelphia after getting tangled up with Danny Briere.
"I stopped myself with my head," Smaby said.
It is Smaby's second concussion this season. The first came when he was with Norfolk on a conditioning assignment.
Smaby said Thursday morning's neurological test was good and he would be tested Thursday night after a hard workout. If all goes well, he could play next week after what Tocchet called "a hard skate."
ODDS AND ENDS: With an average price of $35.76, Team Marketing Report says, Lightning tickets are the league's second-cheapest. … C Blair Jones, who Tuesday was sent to AHL Norfolk, was named to the Canadian team for the AHL All-Star Game. … Norfolk RW Martins Karsums was assigned to MVD Balashikha of Russia's Kontinental League. The move relieves Tampa Bay of his salary obligations, though it retains his rights. … D David Hale was scratched.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at email@example.com.