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.
Florida coach Kevin Dineen said that Goc and Gudbranson both would have played in the third period had it been a regular season game and were held out only as precaution.