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Senators expect Karlsson to play against Rangers

by Dave Lozo
NEW YORK -- Erik Karlsson, the NHL's leading scorer among defensemen, was not on the ice Wednesday for the Ottawa Senators' practice at Chelsea Piers.

Senators coach Paul MacLean said afterward that Karlsson's absence was only precautionary and he should be ready to face the Rangers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

"That's my expectation right now, that he should play," MacLean said.

Karlsson tweaked an upper-body injury before Tuesday's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and did not play after taking part in the pre-game warm-ups.

"I think it was something in his preparation," MacLean said when asked how Karlsson suffered his injury. "Whether it was playing soccer or … whatever he was doing to get his pregame routine, it was in the course of that."

Karlsson led all vote getters for this year's Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game, which will take place in Ottawa. The 21-year-old has 6 goals and 41 points in 43 games along with a plus-7 rating.

The last-second scratch opened the door for Matt Carkner to slide into the lineup against the Penguins. He spoke Wednesday -- at first jokingly -- about how he found himself playing in his 14th game of the season.

"I told them that Karl's sitting and I'm going to play," Carkner said. "It all worked out and we won the game. I put him in a full nelson and inflicted a little injury on him so I could play. It's strategy on my part and I think it worked out. Do you want a serious answer?"

Carkner, who was plus-1 in 15:28 of ice time in the Senators' 5-1 victory, did give a serious answer.

"I was warming up like always and me and Brian Lee had been sitting out here and there," Carkner said. "I just came to the game prepared to play. I really didn't think I was going to be playing, then something happened and he wasn't able to play. I think it was halfway through warm-up whenever I talked to Karl on the ice. He said he's not too sure, so I kind of had an idea then."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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