Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers falls injured.

Getty Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers falls injured.

The Florida Panthers announced less than a week ago, on Thursday, March 28, that the team’s No. 1 defenseman Aaron Ekblad was “ready to roll” and about to make his comeback after missing all games since March 9.

Now, three games and barely seven minutes after returning on March 28, Ekblad is again on the Panthers’ shelves.

Ekblad suffered an undisclosed injury in the Panthers game against the Montreal Canadiens played on Tuesday, April 2. The team ruled him out for the game after he had played just 7:16 minutes through 11 shifts, per Natural Stat Trick.

Update: Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad will not return to tonight’s game in Montreal.

Neither the Panthers nor head coach Paul Maurice made any comment about the nature of the injury on Tuesday, delaying further announcements until Wednesday, April 3, when an update is expected.

The Canadiens upset the Panthers beating them 5-3 in Ekblad’s fourth game since returning from a recent two-week absence. In 51 games this season, including Tuesday’s, Ekbland has scored 4 goals to go with 14 assists (18 points). He’s got a 27 plus/minus through the season, which is tied for the second-best figure among Panthers players.

Panthers Lost Aaron Ekblad Just 4 Games After Getting Him Back

The Panthers entered Tuesday’s matchup against the Canadiens already missing two key members of the team’s offensive unit. Both Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe were ruled out before the puck drop, diminishing the firepower of Florida against the lowly Canadiens.

Ekblad joined those two on the shelves before the second period of Tuesday’s contest following a little exchange (h/t @RDS) with Montreal’s forward Juraj Slafkovsky that happened late in the first frame with the Panthers holding a 2-1 lead.

Juraj Slafkovsky ne se laisse pas faire contre Aaron Ekblad! 😤

“[Ekblad] chip-shot me,” Slafkovsky told reporters in his postgame press conference on April 2. “If he does that, then I won’t let him do it to [me] so I’ll be fighting until the ref jumps in.”

Panthers head coach Maurice lifted weight from the many injuries suffered by the team of late and reasoning that on the late-season schedule.

“We’re gonna lose guys, I told you that two weeks ago,” Marucie told reporters after the game, via Florida Hockey Now. “We’re gonna lose bodies, we’re gonna get guys sick, we’re gonna get guys injured… it’s just the function of the schedule.

“We got a good chunk of adversity right now and part of it will be the panic that will set in outside the room about the eight games.”

There Could Have Been Even More Damaged Players Among Canadiens & Panthers

With a little over six minutes left in Tuesday’s game, things got heated between Florida and Montreal in a matchup that was already more than decided.

Nick Cousins hits Jake Evans after the whistle and chaos ensues 😅

Veteran Panthers forward Nick Cousins body-checked fellow Canadiens forward <atarget=”_blank” href=”https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/e/evansja02.html?utm_medium=linker&utm_source=heavy.com&utm_campaign=2024-04-03_hr”>Jake Evans against the boards after the ref had blown the whistle, leading up to a mini-brawl involving many players from both sides.

Panthers’ Brendan Gallagher threw Brandon Montour to the ice in a karate move and three players, including these two and trouble-initiator Cousins, were handed 10-minute misconduct penalties.

Maurice addressed the fight and offered reporters the reason leading him to remove some of his players late in the game. “The way things are going now, somebody would take a shot off a foot and break a bone in his foot, Maurice told reporters. “I’m not risking it.

“We’re not all in on this—you know—just get the hell off the ice before somebody else gets hurt.”

Following the regulation loss, Florida stayed put in second place in the Atlantic Conference with 99 points in 76 games, 4 points above the Toronto Maple Leafs with 95 in 74 games.

The Panthers will return to the ice on Thursday when they could have Ekblad back in their lineup unless he’s suffered a serious setback.

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