After scoring three goals with six points in three games, Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week.
Included in his six points was the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.
Jonathan Huberdeau sent a feed to Ekblad, who raced in on the breakaway and scored just 16 seconds into the extra frame.
“It was a great pass, it was kind of still in the air as it went by me so I tried to reach out and catch it,” Ekblad said.
“I went in on the breakaway, and I truly have absolutely no idea what to do on breakaways, so I just slowed down a little bit, made a move, and it trickled in.”
By the end of Florida’s three-game road trip, Ekblad had a goal in each of the three games — and they were all important ones.
Aside from the overtime winner, Ekblad also scored a crucial goal in Florida’s 6-2 win over Minnesota to extend their lead to 4-1 and had the tide-turning opening goal in their 5-2 win over Chicago.
“I think he’s one of the best defensemen in the league,” rookie center Anton Lundell said.
“Ekblad moves from the blue line, he’s dangerous, if he has the chance to step up and drive to the net, he drives to the net. He doesn’t only make the easy plays and you can see why he’s so good and why he’s one of the best defensemen in the league.”
With his six-point performance, Ekblad now ranks second among NHL defensemen in goals (13) and fifth among defensemen in points (47).
“He has honestly been incredible all season,” MacKenzie Weegar said.
“He carried us last year and he just keeps getting better and better. I just want to keep seeing success from him and hopefully, he is in the Norris Trophy talks because he definitely deserves it.”