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game recap

Versteeg's pair lifts Panthers over Lightning

Sunday, 09.29.2013 / 2:09 AM

NHL.com

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Versteeg's pair lifts Panthers over Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Florida Panthers 5
Three Stars of the Game
Kris Versteeg
1st
G: 2Shots: 3
A: 1Hits: 0
PTS: 3PIM: 0
+/-: 2TOI: 15:24
Brad Boyes
2nd
G: 1Shots: 1
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 0TOI: 13:47
Steven Stamkos
3rd
G: 1Shots: 2
A: 1Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 2
+/-: 1TOI: 16:21

The best news for the Florida Panthers wasn't that Tim Thomas was able to go all the way in his second NHL appearance since April 2012; it was that Kris Versteeg scored twice and added an assist in his second game back after knee surgery to help the Panthers notch a 5-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"It always feels nice to score," Versteeg said, "but that first one -- you work awfully hard in seven months of rehab to get that feeling again. It feels pretty good, but the win feels better."

Thomas, who signed with the Panthers on Thursday after spending time with the team during training camp on a professional tryout contract, stopped 19 of 22 shots.

Versteeg, who was lost for the season in March and wasn't cleared to play again until Thursday, scored the go-ahead goal with 8:38 remaining in regulation and hit the empty net with a minute to play. Brad Boyes, who signed a contract with the Panthers earlier in the day, Scott Gomez and Jesse Winchester also scored for Florida.

The only bad news for Florida was that center Marcel Goc and defenseman Erik Gudbranson both left the game with upper-body injuries. Goc was hit in the face by a puck; Gudbranson left late in the second period after being driven into the boards by Tampa Bay's Richard Panik, who was assessed a major penalty for boarding. The Panthers said both were kept out of the remainder of the game as a precaution.

Steven Stamkos and Brett Connolly scored in the first 7:41 to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead. Martin St. Louis' goal 2:02 into the third period tied the game at 3-3.

"We had a really good first period, and then we saw a really bad second two, so that was a little bit troubling," coach Jon Cooper said.

Both teams open the regular season Thursday night on the road: Florida visits the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay is at the Boston Bruins.

scoring summary
1st Period
03:45
TBL
Steven Stamkos (1) Tip-in - ASST: Martin St. Louis (1), Jonathan Drouin (1)
1 - 0 TBL
07:41
TBL
Brett Connolly (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Radko Gudas (1), Richard Panik (1)
2 - 0 TBL
11:33
FLA
Brad Boyes (1) Tip-in - ASST: Kris Versteeg (1), Dmitry Kulikov (1)
2 - 1 TBL
2nd Period
01:19
FLA
PPG - Scott Gomez (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Jonathan Huberdeau (1), Brian Campbell (1)
2 - 2 Tie
05:25
FLA
Jesse Winchester (1) Tip-in - ASST: Marcel Goc (1), Dmitry Kulikov (2)
3 - 2 FLA
3rd Period
02:02
TBL
Martin St. Louis (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Steven Stamkos (1), Sami Salo (1)
3 - 3 Tie
11:22
FLA
Kris Versteeg (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Tomas Kopecky (1), Aleksander Barkov (1)
4 - 3 FLA
19:00
FLA
EN - Kris Versteeg (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Brian Campbell (2), Tom Gilbert (1)
5 - 3 FLA
penalty summary
1st Period
08:38
FLA
Jonathan Huberdeau  Too many men/ice - bench  - 2 min
2nd Period
00:35
TBL
Victor Hedman  Holding  - 2 min against  Tom Gilbert
02:04
FLA
Erik Gudbranson  Unsportsmanlike conduct  - 2 min
02:04
TBL
Steven Stamkos  Unsportsmanlike conduct  - 2 min
16:29
TBL
Richard Panik served by Jonathan Drouin  Boarding (maj)  - 5 min against  Erik Gudbranson
16:29
TBL
Richard Panik  Roughing  - 2 min against  Jesse Winchester
16:29
FLA
Jesse Winchester  Roughing  - 2 min against  Richard Panik
3rd Period
11:50
FLA
Scottie Upshall  Interference  - 2 min against  Martin St. Louis
goalie stats
Anders Lindback
SA: 21TOI: 58:46
GA: 4SV%: .810
Tim Thomas
SA: 22TOI: 59:57
GA: 3SV%: .864