Knight gets first NHL shutdown for Panthers against Ducks; Ekblad injured

ANAHEIMSpencer Knight made 17 saves for his first NHL shutout and the Florida Panthers defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-0 at Honda Center on Friday.

“It’s nice to get, I guess, but at the same time, I’m just glad to win,” Knight said of his first shutout in his 22nd NHL start. “There’s so many times where I’ve had great games and given up five goals.”

Jonathan Huberdeau scored two goals for the Panthers (42-14-6), who were coming off a 5-3 loss at the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday that ended a seven-game point streak (6-0-1).

John Gibson made 39 saves for the Ducks (27-26-11), who have lost six in a row (0-4-2).

“I saw a team that’s getting ready to challenge for the Stanley Cup, and one that’s trying to become that,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “Obviously, there’s a wide gap right now.”

Knight, who was starting for the second straight night because Sergey Bobrovsky was ill, faced four shots on goal in the first period while the Ducks gave up 19.

Video: FLA@ANA: Knight earns 1st career shutout

Huberdeau gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 13:54 of the first period. He scored on a one-timer from the right circle off a feed from behind the net from Sam Reinhart.

“We knew they had a good power play and, obviously, they scored one,” Ducks forward Nicolas Deslauriers said. “We shot ourselves in the foot again.”

Huberdeau made it 2-0 with seven seconds left in the period when he scored from nearly the same spot on a one-timer off a feed from Alexander Barkov.

“We knew we had to come back harder,” Huberdeau said of the second game in two nights. “I thought in Vegas we were a little bit slow and didn’t play our game.”

Ducks forward Max Comtois missed a wide-open net off feed from Derek Grant at 2:53 of the second period, and Joe Thornton scored 51 seconds later to stretch Florida’s lead to 3-0.

The Ducks were without veteran forwards Jakob Silfverberg (upper-body injury), Rickard Rakell (upper body), and Ryan Getzlaf (lower body).

“With where we’re at right now, everybody in our lineup has to be playing at 100 percent, especially against a team like that,” Eakins said. “This is a massive, massive challenge, especially when you’re arguably playing the best team in the League.”

Video: FLA@ANA: Huberdeau goes glove side from circle

florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad left the game after he suffered a lower-body injury when he collided with Barkov in the corner of the Anaheim zone 1:05 into the game.

Ekblad crawled toward his bench before he was helped to his feet and then to the locker room.

Florida coach Andrew Brunette said after the game that Ekland may have avoided a major injury, but a further evaluation would take place on Saturday.

“We’re very hopeful,” Brunette said. “It’s way better than we thought it was going to be.”

Ekblad, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, is fifth among NHL defensemen with 57 points (15 goals, 42 points).

He had three assists in the loss to Vegas to surpass Robert Svehla for the most points by a defenseman in Panthers history (291).

Ekblad, 26, fractured his left leg against the Dallas Stars and missed the final 21 regular-season games last season, and the Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“It’s not last year,” Brunette said. “He’s going to be OK.”

NOTES: For the first time in NHL history, a player age 40 or older scored a goal (Thornton), and a goalie age 20 or younger (Knight) had a shutout in the same game. … Huberdeau (189 goals) moved past Olli Jokinen for second on the Panthers career goals list. (189). Barkov is first with 207. … Florida defenseman Radko Gudas had nine hits to give him 275 and break the single-season Panthers record previously held by Derek MacKenzie (273, 2014-15). …Florida forward Patrick Hornqvist missed the game after sustaining an undisclosed injury against Vegas on Thursday. The Panthers started the game with 11 forwards and a seventh defenseman, Lucas Carlsson, who played 13:37 in Ekblad’s absence. …Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm was held out by the Ducks because of asset management. Anaheim could trade the 28-year-old before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline on March 21 (3 p.m. ET). He’s in the final season of a six-year contract and can become an unrestricted free agent after the season. … Ducks forward Sam Steel returned after missing two games after getting hit in the face by a puck and played 11:21.

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