Senators pleased with rookie Swede's progress

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:15 PM ET

Welcome to the NHL, Erik Karlsson.

While the rookie Senators defenceman has suited up for 21 games this season, he didnít have a lot to show for it ó- until the shot he fired from the point Saturday went through the pads of Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom for his first NHL goal.

The puck was saved for the 19-year-old Karlsson, although he wasnít sure what heís going to do with the memento once Senators staff has it put on a plaque with the date.

Certainly, itís a moment Karlsson will cherish.

ďItís pretty good. I had two good chances (against New Jersey Friday) that I think I should have scored on. Iíve just got to keep shooting the puck and I feel like more goals are going to go in,Ē he said.

ďIíve had a lot of shots and itís good that this one went in.Ē

Itís been an up-and-down season for Karlsson. He struggled early and was sent down to Binghamton, where he earned a recall earlier this month.

Heís now here to stay.

Swedish officials were still holding out hope the Senators would release their first-round pick from 2008 to play in the world junior championship starting Boxing Day, but GM Bryan Murray is going to keep the improving ó and maturing ó youngster.

The Senators are willing to live with the rookie mistakes as long as heís making the effort to improve. Karlsson doesnít need to dominate, but the club doesnít want him taking risks, either.

ďSince he came up, heís had some peaks and valleys, but from what Iíve seen itís been two steps forward and one step back,Ē said coach Cory Clouston. ďHe has been able to recover if he has had an average outing.

ď(The game against the Devils) he was minus-2.

I thought (against the Wild) he was much better with the puck and he was more poised. That was a great shot (on the goal) getting it through.Ē

Karlsson is also feeling increasingly comfortable in the NHL.

ďIíve played a lot more games. I know how the game works and I know what it takes to be successful,Ē he said.

ďIíve just got to learn to play the game a little bit more. Itís a way faster game and you need to move your feet a lot more.Ē

Off the glass

Bruins RW Mark Recchi suited up for his 1,524th career NHL game against the Leafs Saturday, tying him for 11th on the all-time list with retired Brendan Shanahan ... The Bruins could have D Dennis Wideman (undisclosed injury) back in the lineup. He joined the team in Toronto.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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