CORAL SPRINGS — With Aaron Ekblad and Josh Mahura leaving Friday’s game early, the Florida Panthers have recalled defenseman Lucas Carlsson from their AHL team in Charlotte for Game 4 against the Boston Bruins.
Ekblad took a hit from Charlie McAvoy in the second period in Friday’s 4-2 loss, went off to the room but returned for two shifts soon afterward. Ekblad, however, did not finish the second and did not come out for the third.
Coach Paul Maurice said Ekblad did not go through the concussion protocol.
Mahura left Friday’s game in the third period leaving the Panthers with three defensemen as Brandon Montour had been send off with a 10-minute misconduct.
On Saturday, Maurice said Ekblad would be a game-time decision although he took part in a sparsely attended practice at the IceDen and went through 30-40 minutes of work with the two goalies as well as Patric Hornqvist and Zac Dalpe.
Mahura did not skate on Saturday.
“He came in feeling much better today and we will need another day like that,” Maurice said of Ekblad. “It is that time of the series where everyone will have some game-time decisions.”
For Carlsson, stepping into the Florida lineup on Sunday could be the continuation of a breakout season with the Checkers.
Carlsson has played in two games for the Panthers after being one of their bottom-6 defensemen last season scoring nine points in 40 games.
Most of his playing time has been with the Checkers where he had 20 goals and 54 points in 61 regular season games to earn second-team All-AHL honors.
“He has been able to play to his strengths in an environment where he is actually getting the opportunity. Here, he was behind other players. He was not getting the offensive opportunities and the big minutes,” Florida general manager Bill Zito said last week.
“John Davidson used to say, and I was not sure about it, but that it took 300 games for a defenseman. He is right. Look at Forsling, look at Montour. There is a huge learning curve and an experience curve. Look at Gudas. He was a healthy scratch the season before he came here.”
Carlsson helped lead Charlotte to an opening-series playoff win against Lehigh Valley by scoring in double-overtime in a must-win Game 2 on Thursday; he had five shots on goal but did not record a point in Friday’s decisive 6-0 win in Game 3.
Charlotte now moves on to the second round against the Hershey Bears in a series which does not start until Friday night.
“He has been a factor every single shift,” Dalpe told FHN last month.
”I have played with a lot of guys around the league and I know a lot of guys on other teams and he is the first name they bring up. He has 20 goals and that speaks for itself but it has been his defensive play, too.
”He breaks plays up and then he is up in the rush. It’s almost like he is a left-handed Brandon Montour.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
BOSTON BRUINS (ATL1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 4 (Boston Leads Series 2-1)
- When: Sunday, 3:30 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, TNT
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Regular Season Series (Tied 2-2): @Boston 5, Florida 3 (Oct. 17); @Florida 5, Boston 2 (Nov. 23); @Boston 7, Florida 3 (Dec. 19); @Florida 4, Boston 3 OT (Jan. 28)
- Last Season: Boston won 2-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 60-38-6, 6 ties
- Playoff History (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 4-1, 1996 (first round)
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: @Boston 3, Florida 1; Game 2: Florida 6, @Boston 3; Game 3: Boston 4, @Florida 2; Game 4: at Florida, Sunday, 3:30 (BSF, TNT); Game 5: at Boston, Wednesday, 7 (BSF, ESPN); Game 6*: at Florida, Friday, April 28; Game 7*: at Boston, Sunday, April 30. (*) — If Necessary.