That a Swede is leading the Senators in scoring isn’t a surprise.
That it’s Erik Karlsson sure is.
After recording two goals and an assist in Ottawa’s 3-1 victory over the Penguins on Sunday at Scotiabank Place, Karlsson pulled a point ahead of captain and fellow Swede Daniel Alfredsson with 23 points.
The blueliner has eight goals and 15 assists in 35 games.
“It’s just about feeling good about yourself,” said Karlsson Monday. “When your teammates are feeling good, I think you just follow and I think you’re able to play your game more.”
Coach Cory Clouston is pleased how Karlsson’s game is getting better, but isn’t exactly thrilled a blueliner is leading the team in scoring close to the halfway point.
“It’s maybe a little bit of a pleasant surprise for him, but we need guys to step it up in an offensive role,” said Clouston. “We’ve had guys who have been in different slumps throughout the season.
“I think it’s indicative of how he’s playing, though. We’ve asked more from him. Now, he’s paired up with Chris Phillips, he’s checking top lines and he’s killing penalties. His role has been expanding over the last 6-8 weeks. He’s responded in a positive way.”
Karlsson said he has enjoyed being paired with Phillips.
“It’s great. We started off in the beginning of the season and we had some struggles, but I think we’ve found chemistry now and we’ve been playing well,” said Karlsson.
G Pascal Leclaire wasn’t on the ice for practice. There is no timetable for his return, but he could skate Tuesday. D Filip Kuba, D Sergei Gonchar, C Mike Fisher and RW Alex Kovalev weren’t on the ice, either. They are all expected to play vs. the Hurricanes at home on Wednesday.