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Ekblad injured on Dumont hit, will not return versus Bolts

The odds are already stacked against the Florida Panthers in their quest to make the playoffs this year.

Now, the challenge could become even more difficult.

Defenseman Aaron Ekblad left Saturday’s game versus the Tampa Bay Lightning with an upper-body injury after a hit from Gabriel Dumont.

The incident occurred early in the second period. The Panthers announced later in the period that Ekblad would not return.

There was no penalty to Dumont for the initial hit, which slammed Ekblad’s head against the glass. However, Dumont was given a fighting major, while Florida defenseman Keith Yandle received a fighting major and a roughing minor after he took issue with the hit.

The Panthers haven’t released the specific nature of the injury. However, Ekblad, who is only 21 years old, was injured during the World Cup, with what was originally described as a mild concussion before that was changed to a neck injury.