Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos never did catch fire the way he or his team hoped he would during the playoffs. Now we know one of the reasons why. Though he denied it was a hindrance to him, Stamkos admitted Monday that he spent the playoffs playing through a nagging left shoulder injury.

"I was a little banged up in the Pittsburgh series, but you know, it wasn't anything that I think really affected my play,'' Stamkos said. "When the game started, you're running on adrenalin and stuff and I felt pretty good for the most part. I feel like I got better and better as the playoffs went on.''

Stamkos did finish the playoffs strong. He scored two goals and set up five others during the last six games of the Eastern Conference finals against Boston. But he never became the scoring threat that he had been during the first five months of the regular season.

Stamkos, who scored 51 goals to share the league lead in 2009-10, led the league with 41 goals through February. He scored just four goals in his last 22 games, however, and when the drought carried over into the playoffs, it sparked speculation that Stamkos was nursing an injury.

"Everyone fights through those little bumps and bruises,'' Stamkos said. "You never want to use that as an excuse. I just banged up my shoulder a little bit. But like I said, we got on it pretty good early on, and I don't think it affected my play.''