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Versteeg has tiebreaker, empty-netter in Panthers' 5-3 win over Lightning in preseason finale

Saturday, 09.28.2013 / 10:05 PM / News

The Canadian Press

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Versteeg has tiebreaker, empty-netter in Panthers' 5-3 win over Lightning in preseason finale

SUNRISE, Fla. - Kris Versteeg scored twice, including the tiebreaking goal near the midpoint of the third period, to lead the Florida Panthers to a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the teams' preseason finale on Saturday night.

Versteeg, playing in his second game after undergoing knee surgery in March, put the Panthers ahead at 8:38 of the third and added an empty-netter with 1 minute remaining. Brad Boyes, Scott Gomez and Jesse Winchester also scored for the Panthers (3-1-3).

Tim Thomas stopped 19 of 22 shots in his first full game in about 17 months. Thomas, who signed with the Panthers after sitting out last season, made his Florida debut Thursday night against Tampa Bay but was replaced in the second period.

Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis each had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay (5-2-0), and Brett Connolly also scored. Anders Lindback made 17 saves.

The Panthers lost two players to injury in the second period, with centre Marcel Goc and defenceman Erik Gudbranson each leaving the game with upper-body injuries. Goc was struck in the face by a puck, while Gudbranson was injured after being checked into the boards by Tampa Bay forward Richard Panik, who was assessed a five-minute major penalty for the hit.

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Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals