Game recaps, the Panthers ship Kris Versteeg back to Chicago, and updates on Henrik Lundqvist, Jordin Tootoo, Joel Ward and more.

Kris Versteeg returns to the Blackhawks.

Kris Versteeg returns to the Blackhawks.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Brandon Pirri scored the winner in a shootout as the Chicago Blackhawks edged the Phoenix Coyotes 5-4. Following the game, the club announced they had acquired winger Kris Versteeg and minor leaguer Phillipe Lefebvre from the Florida Panthers in exchange for prospects Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen. The Panthers also agreed to pick up half of  Versteeg’s $4.4 million salary for the remainder of his contract, which expires in 2015-16.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I expected, the only way the Panthers would move Versteeg was to pick up part of his salary.  This move provides more depth to an offense which has been going well this season. The’Hawks also know what they’re getting as Versteeg was part of their 2010 Stanley Cup championship roster, though he’s been slow to regain his offensive form this season after missing most of last season to a knee injury.

As for the Panthers, this is obviously the start of what should be more salary-dumping deals of veterans this season, though they could wait until closer to the March trade deadline to make those moves. Versteeg was dealt now because the previous and current coaching staff weren’t pleased with his performance, plus he had recently complained about his playing time. If Versteeg regains his form over the course of this season and the remainder of his contract this will be a win for the Blackhawks.

STLTODAY.COM: Alex Steen scored twice and T.J. Oshie collected four assists as the St. Louis Blues downed the Colorado Avalanche 7-3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The line of Steen, Oshie and David Backes is among the league’s best this season, and a key recent for the Blues strong start to this season.

TBO.COM: Valtteri Filppula and Martin St. Louis each had three points as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Anaheim Ducks 5-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Since losing Steven Stamkos to a broken leg the Lightning are 2-0-0.  

BOSTON HERALD: Milan Lucic’s breakaway goal lifted the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffili rallied the LA Kings to a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist denies having any difficulties with coach Alain Vigneault.

PHILLY.COM: Smarter play with and without the puck, improved discipline and better defensive play accounts for the Flyers 4-1-1 record since November 1.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings have placed Patrick Eaves on waivers and demoted Jordin Tootoo to the minors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These moves are being made to make room for Gustav Nyquist.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild’s unheralded third line, which includes Matt Cooke and Kyle Brodziak, have played a key role in the Wild’s 8-1-2 streak since October 19.

WASHINGTON POST: Joel Ward is finding his scoring touch with the Capitals, having reached nine goals already this season.