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Erik Karlsson injury: Senators defenseman to return against Capitals

Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson will return to the lineup on Thursday night against the Washington Capitals.

Ezra Shaw

Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson will return to the lineup against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, the team announced Thursday.

Karlsson has missed 31 games since having 70 percent of his Achilles Tendon lacerated on Feb. 13 in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. By all accounts, it was believed Karlsson's season was over regardless of the Senators ability to qualify for the playoffs. The original projection for his return was set at six months.

Obviously, that schedule proved to be inaccurate.

Video surfaced at the start of April showing Karlsson participating in skating drills. Despite the drills appearing to be advanced in nature, the video didn't give any indication of how much progress he made in his rehabilitation. However, captain Daniel Alfredsson stated that Karlsson had been texting him that he hoped to return this season.

A little over a week later, general manager Bryan Murray stated that Karlsson was "obviously" getting closer to a return and that all involved hoped he would be ready for the start of the playoffs. Two days later he returned to full-team practice.

On Thursday morning, Karlsson led team stretches and took regular rushes with partner Marc Methot. It remains to be seen how involved head coach Paul MacLean plans to make Karlsson. Prior to his injury, the 22-year-old was averaging 27:03 of ice-time, which included 4:10 on the power play and 2:07 on the penalty kill.

It would be hard to imagine he gets any where near those marks on Thursday night.

Karlsson's ability to return from the injury as fast as he did is truly remarkable. Some reports noted that having the tendon lacerated was actually a positive, as a full rupture would have required a more invasive surgery to reconnect the Achilles.

Of course, the concern with his quick return is the threat of re-injury. With that in mind, one would imagine the team will tread lightly and gradually re-introduce him to game action.

Ottawa has three games remaining in the regular season. The team currently claims ownership to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.

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