Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson will make his long-awaited return to the lineup Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks.

“I had the appropriate amount of time to get ready to play again and it’s exciting,” said Karlsson, who missed the opening five games of the regular season while recovering from off-season left foot surgery. “I’m going to be a little bit rusty probably, but it’s better to get back into things as early as possible and hopefully it will get better as we go along.”

Karlsson, widely considered to be the NHL’s best defenceman, has been impressed by the fact the team opened the season with a 3-0-2 record — including a perfect 3-0 run through Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton last week — without him in the lineup. He says it takes pressure off him in trying to do too much, too soon.

“It always helps when a team plays well,” he said. “It has been easier for me to watch and I have been able to take my time and not getting too antsy. They’ve done a good job and I’m not coming in to do anything different.