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At the Rink blog

Karlsson returns as Senators try to snap mini-slide

Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 12:41 PM

By Ben Raby - NHL.com Correspondent / 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

WASHINGTON – Defenseman Erik Karlsson will return to the Ottawa Senators lineup Thursday against the Washington Capitals.

The reigning Norris Trophy winner has not played since Feb. 13 when his Achilles tendon was sliced in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Karlsson underwent surgery Feb. 14 and was expected to miss four to six months. Instead, the 22-year-old will return exactly 10 weeks after the operation.

The Senators could clinch a second straight Stanley Cup Playoff berth as early as Thursday night with a win against the Capitals or a Winnipeg Jets’ regulation loss against the Montreal Canadiens.

Ottawa has lost two straight games since beating the Capitals 3-1 a week ago at ScotiaBank Place. The Senators have since been outscored 7-2 in back-to-back defeats by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Capitals’ loss in Ottawa last Thursday remains the club’s only blemish in a 10-1-0 month of April. Washington clinched the Southeast Division title and the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 5-3 win Tuesday against Winnipeg.

Here is Ottawa’s projected lineup for Thursday night:

Colin GreeningZack SmithDaniel Alfredsson

Milan MichalekKyle TurrisCory Conacher

Erik CondraMika ZibanejadJakob Silfverberg

Guillaume LatendresseJean-Gabriel PageauChris Neil

Marc MethotErik Karlsson

Eric GrybaChris Phillips

Sergei GoncharJared Cowen

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Mike Lundin, Peter Regin, Jim O’Brien, Matt Kassian, Patrick Wiercioch

Injured: Mike Hoffman (collarbone), Jason Spezza (back)

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery