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Senators' Karlsson on ice for practice

Friday, 04.19.2013 / 1:18 PM NHL.com

Erik Karlsson, the Ottawa Senators' Norris Trophy-winning defenseman, took part in a full on-ice practice Friday and could return to the lineup sometime this season.

It was the first time Karlsson skated with the team since undergoing surgery Feb. 14 to repair a 70-percent tear in the Achilles tendon in his left leg. The procedure came the day after Karlsson sustained the injury when he was stepped on by the Pittsburgh Penguins' Matt Cooke.

"It's nice to be back on the ice with the guys," Karlsson said after practice. "It's been a while. Even if it wasn't the hardest practice in the world, it was still a good thing to do and it gave me some perspective on where I am right now."

The timetable for Karlsson's recovery originally was estimated at six months, but he began skating about three weeks ago. He said even he is surprised at how quickly he's come so far.

"It's only been nine weeks or so [since surgery]," he said. "We expected it to take a lot more time. Right now it's just about getting that normal feeling back being back on skates, getting around and getting the timing back. I'm still taking it day-to-day."

Senators general manager Bryan Murray told reporters Friday that Karlsson has been cleared for contact and will return to the lineup once he returns to game shape.

When that comes, however, is unknown.

"When he comes in and says he's ready to play, we'll consider playing him," Senators coach Paul MacLean said.

Karlsson said, "There's not a timeline, not right now. I don't think anybody expects more than anything than trying to skate as much as possible and trying to get normal feeling back in my leg. The more I skate, the better I'm going to feel. When the time comes it's probably going to be a decision made the same day.

"Every injured player wants to get back as quick as possible. I'm not going to put myself in a situation where I don't feel comfortable, and I'm not going to jeopardize anything going into next season. I'm not going to [make] any stupid decisions and I don't think anyone working around me, either, is going to give me bad advice. We're going to have to wait to see how it feels going forward practicing with the team."

According to the Ottawa Sun, Karlsson skated as the extra defenseman in practice, but MacLean said he was thrilled just to see his best defenseman on the ice with the full group.

"He looks like Erik Karlsson," he said. "It's good for the team. His ability was evident."

Karlsson said he was happy to be around his teammates again.

"When you skate alone, you do your drills, do your stuff and take your shots, but you can't really finger on if it's really good or really bad," he said. "Skating with the guys is going to help me figure out where I am right now. I'm just going to try to be out there with them and stay out of their way. I will see how I feel after a week or so.

"It's nice to be back. You've been away for such a long time. You meet the guys all the time, but it's a different feeling when you talk on the ice and skate around together. Whatever I can do to help and be part of the team is hopefully going to help."

Karlsson, who led all NHL defensemen in goals (19) and points (78) last season, had 10 points in 14 games this season prior to his injury.

The Senators, sixth in the Eastern Conference, have five games left in the regular season; they next play Saturday at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC).

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