He's back ... maybe.
Ten weeks after getting his Achilles tendon sliced by Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke, Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson was along for the ride and could return as early as Thursday against the Washington Capitals.
Needing only one victory in their final three games to sew up a playoff spot for the second straight year, the Norris Trophy blueliner took a regular shift at practice Wednesday at Scotiabank Place and looks like he's ready to play.
A final decision won't be made until after the morning skate at the Verizon Center, but Karlsson was with regular partner Marc Methot during the 50-minute twirl and nobody was ruling out the possibility of a return.
All signs are pointing to his comeback. Karlsson, who suffered the injury to his left leg, did try to throw some cold water on the excitement.
"Obviously, I'm taking the trip with the team and it's been a while, but by no means has a decision been made," Karlsson said. "We're going to see how it feels. There's a chance, but it's slim."
Karlsson said he wanted to take a skate with the team before making a decision on whether he'll play or not.
"I'm probably going to take the morning skate. Obviously, because I need to skate," said Karlsson. "By no means, there's nothing guaranteed. Right now, it feels like there's a slim chance that I might come back and play this year.
"If it's in Washington on Thursday or one of those two games on the weekend and it might not even be one of them. We're just going to have to wait and see how things progress. Like I said, I feel better and better every day. It's still not back to normal and probably won't be for a long time."
Karlsson certainly looked like a player who would be in the lineup. The prognosis for the injury was 4-to-6 months when he first got cut on Feb. 9 vs. the Penguins. He has worked hard to push himself to the point where he can return.
Coach Paul MacLean said it'll be up to Karlsson on whether he's ready for a major step in his rehab.
"He's closer. There's always a chance, yes," said MacLean.
"He practised in a regular turn. That's another step in the process. We'll see where it goes.
"His conditioning level continues to get better and up to game speed. He practised well and we'll let him have it overnight. Is there a possibility there? I think he's left that window open and we've left that window open.
"If he feels confident that it's time for him to play, then he'll play. Would that be (Thursday) night, Friday or Saturday? Those are the three opportunities he has right now."
He's back ... maybe.