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Versteeg's OT goal lifts Panthers past 'Canes @NHL
Not long after he hit the goal post near the end of regulation, Kris Versteeg redeemed himself in overtime.

Versteeg tallied the game-winning goal with 1:52 remaining in the extra session, as the Florida Panthers extended their lead in the Southeast Division with a 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at BankAtlantic Center on Sunday.

With the teams skating 4-on-4 in overtime, Stephen Weiss' shot from in front was blocked, but Versteeg found the loose puck and swept it in from the left side of the crease for his team-leading 16th goal of the season.

The Panthers tied the game on Jason Garrison's power-play goal at the 5:47 mark of the third period.

Sean Bergenheim also scored for Florida, which has an eight-game point streak at home (6-0-2). The Panthers are 6-1-5 during a stretch of 12 consecutive home games decided by one goal.

Jose Theodore made 24 saves in the win, which moved Florida eight points ahead of second-place Winnipeg in the Southeast.

"I've got a bunch of guys that are … boy, are they finding ways," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "Sometimes it's not a thing of beauty, but we're finding a way to get our two points.

"There was a lot of question marks about our team early in the season, and I think our guys take pride in where we're at. Under the radar, whatever the word is … we're taking pride that games are a lot harder now. That's 12 in a row now that have been all one-goal games at home. Nothing comes easy for this team."

Cam Ward stopped 22 shots for the Hurricanes, who were trying to win two games in a row for the first time since Nov. 20-21. Carolina has lost 10 of its last 12 contests.

"We're not happy losing that one point, but there's a lot of good things in our game right now," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "When you go on the road and you play that well and you play a team that hasn't hardly lost in their rink, you've got to find ways to pick up a win. The next step we have to do is win these games."
The Panthers drew first blood on Bergenheim's first-period goal. Ed Jovanovski's shot went off the end boards and bounced out to Bergenheim, whose shot beat Ward at 4:16.

Bergenheim has 3 goals in his last two games and 5 in his last nine. The goal also ended a 16-game pointless drought for Jovanovski.

The Hurricanes tied it up with 1:22 left in the first period on a Tim Gleason shot from the point -- his first goal since Nov. 17, 2010 -- a span of 97 games.

"I got the puck to the net. I guess it went in finally, for once," Gleason said.

Carolina moved ahead when Chad LaRose forced Versteeg into a turnover and beat Theodore high with a wrister from the left circle at 13:45 of the second period.

"After the giving the puck away in the second, you feel shamed. It doesn't feel good, but you always try to come back and help the team however you can," Versteeg said. "Great goaltending, and it was just a fortunate play at the end."

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.
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