Florida Panthers fight to avenge Ekblad but Hall proves to be the difference maker

The Florida Panthers went on an unprecedented 12-game win streak, which vaulted them to the top of the Atlantic Division. Since that streak snapped – in an overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks – they have failed to win a game.

Gudbranson avenges injured star blue-liner

Florida still leads the Atlantic but are 0-3-1 in their last four games. It just so happens that they’ve also been without star man Aaron Ekblad for four games as well. The 19-year-old has been sidelined with a concussion, following a nasty hit from Edmonton’s Matt Hendricks on January 10.

Young Ekbad was avenged early in the first period of Monday night’s game, when big Eric Gudbranson dropped the gloves to fight Matt Hendricks and demolished him.


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Below is the nasty hit by Hendricks on Ekblad, and the subsequent beat-down by the “Gudbransonator” – courtesy of Sportsnet Canada.

Ekblad – who was drafted first overall in 2014 – has quickly become Florida’s main man. This season, ESPN records that the teenage sensation has: nine goals – two of which were game-winners – ten assists, a +17 rating, 100 shots on goal, 51 hits, 34 blocked shots and averages 20:46 minutes per game. Florida really misses him.


Florida continues their slump in the Monday night match-up

Coming into the game, Edmonton’s star forward, Taylor Hall, had failed to score in six contests – the Oilers lost four of those six games.

But after the first period of play, Edmonton were 2-0 up on the home side; courtesy of a Taylor Hall breakaway goal and a Willie Mitchell giveaway – which lead to Jordan Eberle scoring.

As the second period rolled to a close, the Florida Panthers found themselves 3-0 down. Hall once again got on the score sheet, when he was allowed time and space in the Florida zone, and flicked a nifty snap shot past Al Montoya from near the blue-line.

The Panthers weren’t willing to go down without a fight. They sprang back to 3-2 after just 5:35 minutes of the final period. Sloppy passing from Oilers defenseman, Sekera, led to Reilly pouncing on a loose puck and making the game 3-1.

Then some nice play, from Florida’s fourth line, led to Howden tapping the puck past Cam Talbot, at the back post.

The Oilers managed to contain the game but were under a lot of pressure leading towards the end. The Panthers decided to pull Al Montoya – and get an extra man on the ice – but as they did that, Edmonton reclaimed the puck. Hall sent Purcell up the ice to shoot the rubber past a desperate, diving Montoya who had rushed back towards goal.

Edmonton won 4-2 at the BB&T Center, and the Panthers extend their winless streak to four. Hopefully, for the Oilers, Taylor Hall will continue his scoring, and give them a better base to push up from when wunderkind Connor McDavid returns.

Despite the loss for Florida, you can bet that Gudbranson will be getting a much-deserved fist-bump from Ekblad upon his return.

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