Erik Karlsson was named one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy as the top defenceman in the NHL over the 2016/17 regular season and six days later, scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers to give his Ottawa Senators a 2-1 lead in their second round series of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Ottawa Senators had a late addition to their lineup on April 3rd against the Detroit Red Wings, but that didn’t surprise his teammates. Erik Karlsson had been out the previous two games with what the Senators were calling an upper body injury. After being cleared by doctors in the morning, Karlsson hoped on a flight to Detroit and was ready for warm up. Just under a minute into the third period, Karlsson would score on the Sens power play after he rushed the puck up the ice into the Red Wings zone, before throwing the puck on the net from below the goal line in the corner, with the puck deflecting off the right pad of goaltender Petr Mrazek. Karlsson tied the game 2-2, but the Senators would go on to lose the game in a shootout 5-4, collecting an important point in their playoff race.
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Apr 4, 2017; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) skates with the puck in the first period against the Detroit Red Wings at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
The Senators would meet the Red Wings the next night, this time in Ottawa. Karlsson would score a similar goal at 12:59 of the first period, this time just above the goal line in the same corner and on Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard. Karlsson’s goal would go on to be the game-winner in the Senator’s 2-0 win and put them into second place in the Atlantic Division.
The Senators would use the three points they earned in their back to back games against the Red Wings, highlighted by their captain’s goals, to maintain their second spot in the Atlantic Division and earn home-ice advantage in their first-round series against the Boston Bruins. Karlsson would once again lead his team to victory, collecting six assists in a 4-2 series win, advancing to the second round and a match up against the New York Rangers.
In game one against the Rangers, Karlsson would go on to show us all again why he is the Senators captain and two-time Norris Trophy Winner in 2012 and 2015, when he would shoot the puck from below the goal line on Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundquist in the same corner as the games against the Red Wings, scoring 15:49 into the third period. Karlsson’s goal gave the Senators a late 2-1 lead, with the Senators maintaining the lead to give them a 1-0 lead in the series.
While many people might think the goal was lucky, Karlsson has scored three goals from the same spot three times in the month of April and all in clutch moments for his team. Now with seven points in seven games and a +4 rating, Karlsson is leading his team one step closer to the Eastern Conference Final and showing that he is the Senator’s most valuable player.