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Fukufuji becomes first Japanese player in NHL @NHL

ST. LOUIS (AP) -Los Angeles Kings goalie Yutaka Fukufuji became the first Japanese-born player in the NHL when he started the third period against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

Fukufuji replaced Barry Brust, who allowed five goals in the first two periods.

"I was so nervous," the 24-year-old Fukufuji said. "This was my first time playing in the NHL. I was so nervous but I was excited, too."

He was recalled Friday on an emergency basis after Mathieu Garon was placed on injured reserve with a finger injury. Fukufuji became the first Japanese native to dress for a league game Dec. 16 against Dallas in another emergency stint.

He stopped Doug Weight's slap shot from the left circle early in the second before surrendering his first goal 7:32 into the final period on the second shot he faced. Dennis Wideman scored during a power play to give the Blues a 6-4 lead and St. Louis went on to a 6-5 victory.

"When the Japanese kid went into the net and he made that great save (against Weight)," Kings coach Marc Crawford said, "I thought we are really going to have something happen."

Fukufuji was 2-0-0 with a 1.30 goals-against average in three games at Manchester of the American Hockey League and 3-3-0 with Reading of the East Coast Hockey League.

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