Coach Adam Oates will turn to Braden Holtby for a third consecutive start tonight when the Capitals take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Holtby stopped 27 of the 32 shots he faced in Washington’s 6-5 overtime win against Florida on Tuesday, and while it wasn’t a performance the goaltender will want to remember, Oates said the 22-year-old came through when the Capitals needed him to.
“I thought he made some big saves when we really needed ’em. He did that in the game at home as well,” Oates said Wednesday. “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.”
Mathieu Garon (1-2-0, .918 save percentage, 2.83 GAA) gets the nod for the Lightning because usual starter Anders Lindback is sick. Coach Guy Boucher said he wasn’t sure if Lindback would even be healthy enough to serve as Tampa Bay’s backup tonight.
The Capitals are currently on the ice for an optional morning skate at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Those not taking part are Alex Ovechkin, Mike Ribeiro, Nicklas Backstrom, Joel Ward and Wojtek Wolski. All eight defensemen are taking part, as are both goaltenders.
“It was more because we had a late practice [Wednesday] in [Tampa Bay’s] barn,” Oates said of the reason for the optional skate. “They 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.”
Because of the limited participation in the skate, the Capitals didn’t take line rushes this morning, but it’s likely Oates will stick with the lines he used in Wednesday’s practice: