• Panthers 5, Lightning 3: Florida got a pair of goals (one into an empty net) from Versteeg in the second half of the third period to snap a four-game winless streak.
Erik Gudbranson and Marcel Goc both left the game in the second period with various upper-body injuries. Dineen said both would be fine and that had this been a regular-season game, they would have returned.
Thomas gave up three goals on 22 shots as he played his first complete game of the preseason. Florida went 3-1-3 in the preseason.
“It’s a preseason game but it was important,” said Thomas, who is expected to be Florida’s opening night starter. “They are a division rival; there are some new guys on this team and we’re looking to become a team, get some confidence to win a game when we’re up in the third. We won not only with the lead, but came back after giving up one. I liked what I saw in front of me.”
Still no Jovo
Gilbert, 30, was in the lineup for Saturday’s preseason finale against Tampa Bay and was paired up with Brian Campbell. Florida is expected to start the season with seven defenseman, although captain Ed Jovanovski isn’t expected to be one of them.
Although he has been at every practice of training camp, it doesn’t appear that Jovanovski’s surgically repaired hip will allow him to be on the opening-night roster.
“He’s still rehabbing and is getting better every day,” Tallon said. “It’s a matter of when he feels he can contribute and get into the physicality of the game. It’s good to see him out there. He’s getting closer. The next three, four weeks, he should be good to go.’”
• Sean Bergenheim took part in Saturday morning’s skate but is still a few weeks away after having multiple abdominal surgeries last year.
• The Panthers will take Sunday off before returning to practice Monday. The team will practice in Coral Springs on Monday through Wednesday before leaving for Dallas. The Panthers’ season opener is Thursday night against the host Stars.