Sens D Karlsson returns to practice

Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson returned to practice on Friday, after being cleared for contact just over two months since suffering a near-total cut of his Achilles tendon.

"It's nice to be back on the ice with the guys. Even if it wasn't the hardest practice in the world, it was a good thing to do and it gave me some perspective on where I am (in the recovery process)," Karlsson said after a Friday session.

Karlsson's season was deemed "effectively over" after having surgery in mid- February to repair the damage, with a 3-to-4 month timetable for recovery.

Karlsson suffered the injury late in the second period of a Feb. 13 contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Karlsson and Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke met along the boards while chasing down a puck, and Cooke's left skate appeared to graze Karlsson near the left ankle.

The young Swedish rearguard had a team-high six goals and four assists in 14 games this season before the mishap.

"I try to do what I can and I try to make it feel as normal as possible. It's not exactly where I want it to be, but at least it's good to be out there," Karlsson continued. "Right now, it's about getting that normal feeling back in the skates and getting the timing back while still taking it day-to-day."

Ottawa is looking to gain solid footing in the Eastern Conference playoff race, currently in sixth place with 52 points, one point behind division-rival Toronto and one ahead of the New York Islanders. The Senators have five games remaining, starting with a Saturday night tilt at home against the Maple Leafs.