The Washington Times - February 14, 2013, 11:29AM

TAMPA, Fla. | The Washington Capitals held an optional morning skate Thursday morning in preparation for their game at the Tampa Bay Lightning. Eight forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies were on the ice.

“It was more because we had a late practice [Wednesday] in their barn,” coach Adam Oates said. “[The Lightning] practiced at 11; we didn’t get ice till 2, so give ‘em the choice today: whatever they can do to be ready for tonight.”


Captain Alex Ovechkin, centers Mike Ribeiro and Nicklas Backstrom, left wing Wojtek Wolski and right wing Joel Ward did not skate. The Caps only have 12 forwards with them on the Florida road trip; Marcus Johansson (day-to-day, upper body injury) is not here.

Oates said the five guys who didn’t skate are healthy and will play Thursday night.

“Yep, oh yeah,” he said. “They played a lot of minutes the other night, those guys, and generally that’s kind of the turnout you get.”

Brooks Laich (groin) skated, though there is no timetable for him to make his season debut.

Braden Holtby is set to start in net, coach Adam Oates said Wednesday afternoon. It’s the third consecutive start for the 22-year-old, who beat the Florida Panthers in his past two.

Lightning starter Anders Lindback is sick, so Mathieu Garon will get the nod against the Caps, coach Guy Boucher said.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Caps:

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