TAMPA, Fla. | The Washington Capitals joked around in the locker room and chirped each other on the ice Wednesday at Tampa Bay Times Forum. They were a loose group following a comeback victory over the Florida Panthers, even armed with the knowledge that plenty of issues need to be addressed.
There’s a lot to work on, but coach Adam Oates went back to the same lines from the start of Tuesday’s game and confirmed later in the afternoon that Braden Holtby will start in goal Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I thought he made some big saves when we really needed ‘em,” Oates said of Holtby’s 27-save performance against the Panthers. “He did that in the game at home as well. Yeah I’m sure there’s a couple goals that maybe he probably might wanted to play a hair differently. But he also made some great saves and we didn’t play as good in front of him as we should. I think that’s fine, and we got the win and we all move on.”
Moving on, Oates put his benching of Jason Chimera in the past and slid the veteran left wing back onto the first line with Mike Ribeiro and Alex Ovechkin.
“Obviously it’s nice to be back out there, for sure,” said Chimera, who played 5:43 in the overtime victory at Florida. “I think it’s important for me to get back out there and have a good game and move on from there. I think it shows some confidence, which is good.”
Oates had no update on forward Marcus Johansson, who is not with the Caps on their Florida trip.
Here’s a look at the expected lines for Thursday night’s game at the Lightning, with the defensive pairs that were used Tuesday:
Jason Chimera - Mike Ribeiro - Alex Ovechkin
Wojtek Wolski - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer
Eric Fehr - Mathieu Perreault - Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Joey Crabb
Karl Alzner - Mike Green
John Erskine - John Carlson
Jeff Schultz - Tomas Kundratek