The Ottawa Senators are fighting to hang on to a playoff spot and battling injuries, but they got some good news on Monday.
Captain Erik Karlsson returned to the lineup against the Detroit Red Wings after missing two games with a foot injury. Ottawa's leading scorer is badly needed, seeing as the Senators have lost four straight and eight of 10 games.
Unfortunately for Ottawa, Karlsson's goal and assist weren't enough to stop the team's skid. The Sens lost 5-4 in a shootout.
"I skated at 10 this morning in Ottawa, and it felt good, so I called [general manager] Pierre [Dorion] and told him I thought I could play," Karlsson said following the loss. "I didn't tell anyone I was coming, not even my teammates.
"I just jumped on a plane and got here as fast as I could. I don't think anyone knew until they saw my jersey hanging in my locker."
Senators coach Guy Boucher said he thinks the team did get a boost from their captain's return even if it didn't translate to a win.
"If he says that he's going to be there, he's going to be there," Boucher said. "We knew he wasn't coming just to be there half. He had a big impact on the game. It lifted our team. It created a lot of enthusiasm."
Though Karlsson is back, the news isn't all good for the Sens, however. Coach Guy Boucher said earlier Monday that defensemen Cody Ceci and Marc Methot and forward Zack Smith are unlikely to play for the remainder of the regular season.
Ceci has a leg injury, the team hasn't disclosed Smith's ailment, and Methot suffered a gruesome finger injury when he was slashed by the Penguins' Sidney Crosby.
A few weeks ago, the Senators were battling to topple the Canadiens from the top of the Atlantic Division, but they are now trying to hold off the Lightning for the final wild-card spot in the East.
Ottawa leads Tampa by three points with five games to play but does have a game in hand. Ideally, the Senators would like to jump back into the top three in the division to avoid a first-round matchup against the top team in the Metro, likely Washington.
Karlsson has 68 points and is a Norris Trophy candidate. Smith has 32 points, Ceci 17 and Methot 12.