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.