The past two-plus months proved to be trying times for Mike Smith. Now, he hopes to just enjoy his time in net.

Smith is scheduled to make the start tonight in Boston, his first action in a Lightning uniform since Dec. 18. Two days after beating Buffalo, Smith suffered a knee sprain that kept him from playing until late January, after the team acquired Dwayne Roloson to be the top goaltender.

Before the All-Star break, Smith had two conditioning starts for Norfolk of the American Hockey League. Three days after the All-Star Game, Smith was placed on waivers and subsequently outright assigned to the minor leagues.

When Dan Ellis was traded to Anaheim last week, the door opened for Smith to return to Tampa to serve as the backup for the rest of the season.

"I've learned a lot this past month,'' Smith said. "I think I'm at my best when I just go play and enjoy it and whatever happens, happens. You can only play up to your potential, after that you can't control anything that happens. I'm going to go into (tonight) and play my game and have some fun and hopefully play real well.''

In his last two starts before getting injured, Smith won both games and allowed two total goals. In five starts with Norfolk, despite a 1-4 record, he posted a 1.83 goal-against average with a .924 save percentage with one shutout.

The last time Smith started in Boston, however, was not an enjoyable time as he was lit up for five goals on 22 shots before being pulled in the opening minute of the third period of an 8-1 loss. In that game, Smith was caught leaving his net early to play the puck when a shot from center went in the net and later he gave a puck away behind his own net.

For a guy who says he is mentally stronger after the events of the past month, tonight will be a big mental challenge.

It's a "gigantic test, but he has to do it. That's what a backup does, he has to take some tough games,'' Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "Smitty is in this league so he's going to have to … and he's been with us before. He played really good for us before he got hurt and he played really well in the American League.''