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Erik Karlsson of Senators leaves Game 4 against Rangers

Ottawa says defenseman 'could have come back,' hopeful he will play Game 5

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- The Ottawa Senators are hopeful defenseman Erik Karlsson will be able to play in Game 5 after he sustained a lower-body injury in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

Karlsson did not play in the third period of a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers that evened the best-of-7 series 2-2. Game 5 is at Ottawa on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"We felt it was better to keep him out after the second period," Senators coach Guy Boucher said. "He could have come back, but [we] just wanted to make sure."


[RELATED: Complete Rangers vs. Senators series coverage]


Karlsson played 14:54 in two periods and left with the Senators trailing 3-0. The Ottawa captain seemed to be injured in collisions with New York forwards Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller in the second period.

Karlsson has been playing with two hairline fractures in his left heel. He did not practice Monday but has not missed any games in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has one goal and seven assists in 10 games.

Karlsson did not speak with reporters after the game.

"Obviously as players, you're worried," Senators forward Bobby Ryan said. "That's our leader. The concern level is high. But they've got 36 hours to get him ready to go."

Defenseman Cody Ceci led the Senators with 25:49 of ice time. Ceci had 17 points (two goals, 15 assists) in 79 games during the regular season; Karlsson was their leading scorer with 71 points (17 goals, 54 assists) in 77 games. Dion Phaneuf ranked second among Senators defensemen with 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists) in 81 games; he had one shot on goal in 17:24 on Thursday.

"It's hard to replace Erik -- your captain -- but at the same time, you've just got to try and pull by committee," Ryan said. "You've got five other [defensemen]. If they give a little bit more here and there and they're going to get ice time, you hope they get comfortable. That wasn't the case, but those guys filled the minutes well."

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