Keaton Ellerby, the spare cog in the Panthers' defense this season, received an inspirational talk from coach Kevin Dineen on Monday.

The message, essentially: Keep working hard, opportunity will come.

The young defenseman didn't have to wait long. Monday night, veteran Ed Jovanovski injured a hand in a fight with Boston's Daniel Paille. With Jovanovski out indefinitely — he will be examined by a specialist Wednesday in South Florida while the Panthers begin a three-game trip in Colorado —Ellerby goes from odd-man out to man on the spot on the blue line.

A healthy scratch for the past eight games, Ellerby has been used sparingly all season while rookie Erik Gudbranson meshed with the veteran corps on defense.