The star blueliner missed half of January, half of February, and all of March with a lingering groin injury and during Friday’s game it appeared he reaggravated it.
Karlsson finished the game with 25:09 of ice-time – Brent Burns was the only skater on either team to log more ice-time – but there was a stretch in the second half of the third period where he remained on the Sharks bench, clearly in discomfort, for more than seven consecutive minutes.
The two-time Norris Trophy winner returned to the ice for the final 1:55 of the third frame as the extra attacker once goalie Martin Jones was pulled, however he was labouring and not nearly as mobile as he was earlier in the game.
“I don’t have anything for you there,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters following the game when asked about Karlsson’s health status.
If Karlsson is forced to miss any time, or if his mobility is significantly impacted going forward, it’ll be a huge blow to San Jose’s back end.
Karlsson, who only suited up for 53 regular-season games, was just hitting his stride in the post-season. The pending unrestricted free agent scored twice in Wednesday’s Game 3, including the overtime winner, and registered an assist on his team’s lone goal on Friday to bring his playoff total to 16 points in 18 games.
The Western Conference Final is now a best-of-three with Game 5 set to take place Sunday afternoon at the SAP Center.