During the second period of Sunday's game between the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers, Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad was hit while battling in the corner by Stars defenseman Esa Lindell. It wasn't a massive hit, but Ekblad was in an awkward position at the point of contact and his leg buckled.
Ekblad -- who you could hear was in physical pain because of the lack of fans allowed in the arena due to COVID-19 restrictions -- was taken off the ice on a stretcher and an Aircast was applied to his leg as he left the ice.
Warning: the video of the injury is graphic
Following the game, Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville revealed that Ekblad would undergo further evaluation to determine the severity of the injury, but noted that they "think he's going to be out for an extensive time," according to ESPN.
It's quite likely that Ekblad will miss a significant amount of time considering how serious this injury appeared to be -- and that's bad nes for the Panthers. Ekblad has been one of the most impressive defensemen in the NHL this year as he's tied for the league-lead with 11 goals.
"He's had so many games when he's dominant defensively, but it's his offensive contribution, joining the attack, added a different dimension to our power play," Quenneville added. "You couldn't ask for anything more."
The Panthers are in the thick of the Central Division race as they are just two points behind the division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.
To make matters worse, the Panthers were already shorthanded in the goal-scoring department. Captain Aleksander Barkov has missed the last three games due to a lower body injury while fellow forward Patric Hornqvist is also expected to be out for the next week with an undisclosed injury. They were leaning on Ekblad and now will be without him, too.
Since being selected with the top pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Ekblad has spent his entire professional career with the Panthers.