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Panthers leading scorer Versteeg out at least three games

Feb 28, 2012, 12:43 PM EDT

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Kris Versteeg Getty Images

According to George Richards of the Miami Herald, Florida head coach Kevin Dineen has confirmed that leading scorer Kris Versteeg will miss the next three games with a lower-body injury.

The loss is a big one for the Panthers. Versteeg is their go-to guy up front — leading the team in goals (22), points (49) and game-winning goals (five) — and they’re about to embark on a crucial stretch. With 70 points and sitting atop the Southeast Division, Florida’s:

– In Toronto on Tuesday to face the 10th-place Leafs (65 points).

– In Winnipeg on Thursday to face the eighth-place Jets (68 points).

– At home Saturday against Nashville.

– At home Sunday against seventh-place Ottawa (74 points).

The hope is Versteeg will return to the lineup for Sunday, though reports suggest the injury could keep him out next week as well. As for replacements: John Madden will draw in while Tomas Kopecky moves up to center the first line between Tomas Fleischmann and Wojtek Wolski.

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