The Washington Times - March 8, 2012, 10:19AM

It’s that time of year where players are banged up and in need of rest down the stretch. It’s also that time of year where the Washington Capitals know every game is crucial.

Especially Thursday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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“We’ve had our difficulties against them in the past and we’ve got to treat this like it’s do-or-die,” defenseman Mike Green said.

But Thursday’s morning skate was an optional workout and seven Caps players took that option: Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer, Jeff Halpern, Dennis Wideman and Green.

Jason Chimera was back on the ice after a maintenance day off.

Because so many players were missing, the team did not do line rushes. But the combinations from Wednesday could remain:

Marcus Johansson - Brooks Laich - Alex Ovechkin

Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin

Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Troy Brouwer

Keith Aucoin - Jeff Halpern - Joel Ward - Mike Knuble