Ekblad leads Panthers over Flyers with first NHL goal

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Defenseman Aaron Ekblad’s first NHL goal proved to also be his first game-winner in Florida’s 2-1 victory over Philadelphia.

In the final contest of Ekblad’s nine-game trial, he fired the puck through tons of traffic to beat Flyers goaltender Steve Mason.

As it happened, the Panthers needed that late-game insurance goal because Vincent Lecavalier, making his return from a foot injury, found the back of the net in the dying seconds of the third period.

With Ekblad’s trial up, the Panthers had to decide whether to keep him or send the 2014 first overall pick back to the OHL. Keeping him for a 10th game would result in this counting as the first season of his entry-level contract. He’s been logging big minutes though, so it came as no surprise when coach Gerard Gallant officially announced after the game that the 18-year-old would be sticking with Florida, per the Miami Herald’s George Richards.