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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final

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

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.

I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the OT winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round