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Carlson To Make Return From Fractured Skull vs. Blackhawks

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is ready to make his long-awaited return to the lineup on Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks. It’ll be his first game since taking a 90 MPH slapshot to the face exactly three months ago.



WASHINGTON — Exactly three months after taking a 90MPH slapshot to the face that fractured his skull and severed a major artery in his head, John Carlson is ready to make his return to the Washington Capitals lineup as the team hosts the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.

The team announced that the 33-year-old defenseman is expected to play. He is taking part in rushes at morning skate and is in a red jersey, indicating he’ll get power-play work in as well.

“Feel really good. Feel rejuvenated, I think I haven’t had this much time off and over the winter in my life probably,” Carlson said. “Just try to take care of myself, get better and do things that I otherwise wouldn’t do and get ready for coming back.”

Prior to the injury, Carlson played in 30 games for Washington, racking up 21 points. Without No. 74 in the mix this season, the team has gone 15-21-6. After a strong December, the Capitals fell in the standings and are now out of playoff position with 10 games left to go in the regular season.

“You’re talking about one of the most valuable pieces, your top-end defenseman, a guy that’s put up 70 points and Norris Trophy years behind him and Norris Trophy-type player. There’s no question taking him out of the lineup stings,” head coach Peter Laviolette said.

Carlson added on Saturday that he would only play if it’s the best for his long-term future. Right now, though, he is feeling good and is ready to get back in the mix after what he said was of the scariest injuries of his career.

“I think it was kind of survival-ish. I was just kind of, when you see blood, you’re just like, ‘What do I have to do to get out of here?’ kind of thing, and that’s what I was feeling like,” Carlson said of the incident. “Even in the moment, you don’t think about the pain as much, you know, just what you think is the best thing to do. Just like when someone else gets hit, what do you do if there’s blood you’re reaching for something. Everybody on the bench jumps up and that’s no different with the person getting injured, too. I think every injury is different, certainly, but in some way, shape or form, that’s what everyone’s doing.”

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.

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