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Panthers Wrap-Up: Panthers 5, Jets 2

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers
1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 2 2 1 0 5
JETS 0 0 2 0 2
FLA - K. Versteeg (6), PPG - K. Versteeg (7), J. Garrison (6), PPG - M. Santorelli (2), K. Versteeg (8)

WPG - PPG - T. Stapleton (1), A. Ladd (4)
WINNIPEG, Mannitoba (AP) - Kris Versteeg had three goals and an assist, and the Florida Panthers bolstered their already strong start with a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.

Jason Garrison and Mike Santorelli also scored to help Florida (8-4-3) build a 4-0 lead after two periods. Brian Campbell added three assists as the Panthers won their second consecutive game and stretched their point streak to six games.

"Opportunity presents itself in different ways. I think that what he has done is that he realizes he is getting a quality opportunity on this team that he may not have seen in Toronto or in Chicago when he was with all of those incredible offensive players that those teams have. It hasn't just been one game. He's been really consistent and a good player for us all year."

- Head coach Kevin Dineen on the start to winger Kris Versteeg's year.
1. Kris Kross Makes You Want To Jump Jump: Went old school with that headline but if you watched winger Kris Versteeg play against the Jets, you wanted to jump every time he had the puck on his stick. Versteeg has looked great to start the season and against the Jets, he was at his best, skating with speed, going to the net and doing everything to net the first hat trick of his career (while also adding an assist) for four points on the night. The winger scored the game's first two goals, both by battling hard near the crease and putting in rebounds on the backhand. Then with the Panthers up two and the Jets pulling their goaltender for the extra attacker, Versteeg outmuscled his way past two Jets defenders and scored into the empty net while on his back. Through 15 games on the season, Versteeg has posted 17 points (eight goals), most on the Panthers.

2. Keep Battling Away: The Panthers were in the paint (well just outside of it) all night and it paid off with three of the five goals coming from in close (Versteeg's first two and Mike Santorelli's tally to make it 4-0 in the second). Those three goals actually came on second and third chances as the Panthers were able to get their sticks on the puck and outmuscle the defenders for it in the process to put it into the back of the net. Just goes to show that you keep battling for the puck and you will eventually be rewarded for all of the hard work.

3. View Of The Standings: Yes it's only 15 games in, and there's PLENTY of hockey left to play, but the Panthers have to feel good, winning their third straight on the road (going back to the Buffalo game at the end of October), taking points in six straight on their way to the best start through 15 games (8-4-3 for 19 points) since the 1996-97 season. Also with the win, the Panthers leapfrogged two Southeast Division foes in Washington (18 points in 13 games) and Tampa Bay (18 points in 15 games) into first place and third in the Eastern Conference. At least for one day, the Panthers can enjoy the view and if the team still has gelling to do, it should make for an exciting rest of the season. 
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@eraider: Kris Versteeg. Straight ballin' with a hat trick tonight #FlaPanthers #newfavoriteplayer #oldschoolpanthershat

@benjamin_arkin: It's also worth mentioning that the @FlaPanthers are in first place in the southeast. #FlaPanthers fans could get used to saying that

@B_Epstein: First Place Florida Panthers. Just wanted to see it in writing. #FlaPanthers #WeSeeRed

@Ewener: Watching #FlaPanthers win > doing assignment! Congrats on the hat trick #VerBeauty! #roadwarriors eh?!

@mtodd90: Versteeg with another unreal night... get this guy on the All Star ballot. #FlaPanthers

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Thomas Ouillette: Now that's an "earned" empty netter. Congrats Steeger on your first hat trick.

Adam Hernandez: What a freaking amazing win GLAMOROUS ALL THE WAY!!

Colby Moran: Steeg with the hat trick and we move to #1 in the Division! (When is the last time we saw either of these?)

Erick Maldonado: ‎8-4-3 still can't believe it. I can't stop smiling. Waited along tine for this. Great game and top it off with a hat trick. Love my Panthers!

Cristela Ballestero: Yeah... That's ehat i was talking about... Let's go Cats... Grrrrr

4. He did the most of his damage in the goal category, registering the first hat trick of his career, but by adding an assist for four points, it was the most points in a game for winger Kris Versteeg.

Recording the third goal of the game, defenseman Jason Garrison recorded his sixth goal of the season. That toal, all ready a career high, topping last season's total of five, puts him into a league high among blueliners with Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom.

7. The Panthers dominated in their two games to Canada, outscoring their opponents 10-3. The 5-2 victory against Winnipeg followed the 5-1 win in Toronto on Tuesday.

The Panthers had an extremely successful night in terms of the shot category, at least through the first two periods. Florida limited Winnipeg to just 10 shots through 40 minutes of play. The Jets brought everything but the kitchen sink in the third, putting 17 shots on net on their way to two third period tallies.

40. Florida's fifth ranked power play improved even more after Thursday night's outing as it went 2-for-5 (40%) in the category. After Kris Versteeg scored his second of the game with the Panthers on the man advantage, Mike Santorelli made it 4-0 on another power play marker in the second period. Florida also had a 40% shooting percentage in the first period as they scored on two of their five shots.

Kris Versteeg
Maybe the easiest choice to make this season. Easy in that he recorded his first hat trick of his career while posting a career-high four points in leading the Panthers to victory.

3 Goals, 1 Assist, 4 Points, +3, 4 Shots
The Panthers successfully return home for a Sunday matinee matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers before hitting the road for games in Dallas and Saint Louis. Florida looks to get in the win column at the BankAtlantic Center after dropping the last three games in shootout fashion. For Philadelphia, the Flyers last played Wednesday night, falling in Tampa Bay 2-1 in overtime. Both Florida and Philadelphia enter Sunday's game with identical 8-4-3 records.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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