Versteeg’s hat trick helps Panthers roll

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.

Tim Stapleton and Andrew Ladd had goals for the Jets (5-8-3),
who were sluggish and unable to mount an attack in the first two
periods. Coming off a season-high, seven-game road trip, Winnipeg
went more than 23 minutes without a shot during one span, and had
only 10 shots through two periods.

A sedate crowd at the usually raucous MTS Centre finally found
some hope as the Jets cut their deficit in half six minutes into
the third period. Stapleton scored a power-play goal, and Ladd
tipped in Zach Bogosian’s shot from the point get Winnipeg within
4-2.

The Jets peppered goalie Jose Theodore with 17 shots in the
period, but couldn’t get any closer. Theodore finished with 25
saves.

Jets coach Claude Noel kept starting goalie Ondrej Pavelec on
the bench for the third period after he allowed four goals on 15
shots, replacing him with Peter Mannino. Mannino, a call-up from
the St. John’s IceCaps of the AHL, stopped all four shots he
faced.

Versteeg opened the scoring with a pair of first-period goals,
including one on the first shot Pavelec faced at 7:14. He added a
power-play goal at 17:27 and an empty-net goal late in the third
for the hat trick.

Garrison blasted a shot past a screened Pavelec to make it 3-0
in the second period after an extended period of 6-on-5 play during
a delayed penalty call.

The Panthers scored their second power-play goal of the night
when Santorelli beat Pavelec. The Jets have given up six power-play
goals in two games.

NOTES: Jets forward Eric Fehr participated in contact drills for
the first time this season, during the morning skate, but the team
hasn’t said when he will return from a shoulder injury. … Florida
forward Jack Skille was booed every time he touched the puck, in
response to his hit on Oct. 31 that broke the collarbone of Jets
defenseman Tobias Enstrom. … Canada Post unveiled three
Jets-themed stamps on Thursday to commemorate the return of NHL
hockey to Winnipeg.