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Aaron Ekblad returning for Panthers

Defenseman to play vs. Hurricanes, has missed past four games because of concussion

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Defenseman Aaron Ekblad will play for the Florida Panthers against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-CR, NHL.TV).

Ekblad missed four games with a concussion sustained against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 11.

"It feels great [to return]," Ekblad said after morning skate. "Being injured is the worst thing possible because you're here at the rink more than if you're not injured and you were playing. It's definitely hard to be out, but I feel good. Honestly, it wasn't too, too bad. But it was still something, so we had to take care of it."

 

[Related: Fantasy Impact: Ekblad's return]

 

Ekblad has 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 67 games and is second on the Panthers in average ice time at 21:30 per game. Defenseman Keith Yandle is first at 22:08.

Ekblad said he has been skating for the past four days.

Rowe said Ekblad, 21, wanted to play Sunday at the Pittsburgh Penguins, "but we didn't want to rush him back given the fact that he's such a young guy. We wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing. Obviously it's great having him back, but we weren't going to rush him back."

Florida is eight points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with 11 games remaining.

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