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.