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 Greening – Zack Smith – Daniel Alfredsson
Milan Michalek – Kyle Turris – Cory Conacher
Erik Condra – Mika Zibanejad – Jakob Silfverberg
Guillaume Latendresse – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Chris Neil
Marc Methot – Erik Karlsson
Eric Gryba – Chris Phillips
Sergei Gonchar – Jared Cowen
Scratched: Mike Lundin, Peter Regin, Jim O’Brien, Matt Kassian, Patrick Wiercioch
Injured: Mike Hoffman (collarbone), Jason Spezza (back)