Versteeg's OT goal edges Panthers past Canes

Gleason, LaRose score in loss

Associated PressDecember 19, 2011 

— The points just keep coming for the Florida Panthers, especially on home ice.

Kris Versteeg scored three minutes, eight seconds into overtime, giving the Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night.

Stephen Weiss' shot from in front was blocked, but Versteeg found the loose puck and swept it in from the left side of the crease for his team-leading 16th goal of the season.

Sean Bergenheim and Jason Garrison also scored for Florida, and Jose Theodore made 24 saves. The Panthers have earned at least one point in eight straight home games, and their last 12 contests on their rink have been decided by one goal. The Panthers stretched their lead in the Southeast Division to eight points, tied with Boston for the largest edge in the NHL.

Tim Gleason and Chad LaRose had goals for the Hurricanes, who got 23 saves from Cam Ward. Carolina has lost 10 of 12, but earned points in four of the past five.

"When you go on the road and you play that well and you play a team that hasn't hardly lost in their rink, you've got to find ways to pick up a win," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "The next step we have to do is win these games."

Florida tied it 2-2 on Garrison's power-play goal in the third period. Garrison's shot from the point hit Ward's pads and trickled into the net.

Carolina had taken a 2-1 lead in the second. LaRose got the puck away from Versteeg as he brought it out from behind the net, and his wrister from the left circle went over Theodore's right shoulder.

"After the giving the puck away in the second, you feel shamed. It doesn't feel good but you always try to come back and help the team however you can," Versteeg said. "Great goaltending, and it was just a fortunate play at the end."

Florida had a sluggish second period, managing just four shots on goal.

"We were skating in mud during the second period," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "(Carolina) had a lot of energy and we weren't able to match that."

The Hurricanes had only two shots in the third period.

"There's a lot of things we have to work on and we have to play a complete sixty and finish out games," LaRose said.

The Panthers went ahead 1-0 on Bergenheim's first-period goal. Ed Jovanovski's shot went off the end boards and bounced out to Bergenheim, whose shot beat Ward. It was Bergenheim's third goal in two games and fifth in nine contests. Jovanovski, who finished with two assists, had gone 16 games without a point.

The Hurricanes tied it at 1 when Gleason scored 18 minutes, 38 seconds in with a wrist shot from above the left circle that went between Theodore's pads. It was Gleason's first goal since Nov. 17, 2010 - a span of 97 games.

"I got the puck to the net. I guess it went in finally for once," Gleason said.

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