SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) _ The Florida Panthers used a bit of good fortune to make
new interim coach John Torchetti's debut a success.
Viktor Kozlov's club-record two goals in seven seconds in the second period
gave the Panthers a 2-1 victory over Montreal in Torchetti's first NHL game.
Torchetti took over for Rick Dudley, who stepped down Monday to concentrate on
his general manager duties.
``We got a little lucky on the second one,'' said Olli Jokinen, who assisted
on both goals. ``It took a lucky bounce. It's about time the puck started
bouncing our way.''
Kozlov's two goals in seven seconds broke the team record of 50 seconds by
Scott Mellanby on Jan. 25, 1997.
Kozlov, who missed the last four games with a broken thumb, also helped the
Panthers set a franchise record for fastest two goals by the team. The record
was eight seconds, set against Buffalo on March 15, 2002.
``It was nice to see Kozlov come back the first game and score two goals
like that,'' Lyle Odelein said.
Kozlov missed a great chance for a hat trick in the final minute when he
shot wide from just inside the blue line after Montreal goalie Jose Theodore
was pulled for an extra skater.
``I was too excited,'' Kozlov said. ``I thought it was a very good chance
for a hat trick, but it doesn't go in.''
Andrei Markov scored for Montreal, which had its three-game winning streak
Montreal native Roberto Luongo made 40 saves for the Panthers, who are 2-0-1
against the Canadiens this season. Luongo made several big saves to preserve
the lead, including a leg stop on Mike Ribeiro from close range early in the
``We had a lot of shots, but I don't think we created a lot of chances,''
said Theodore, who made 20 saves. ``And when we had those big chances, he made
the big saves.''
Kozlov set the record at 1:50 of the second period. Jokinen won the
center-ice faceoff back to defenseman Lukas Krajicek, who dumped the puck in
around the boards. With Theodore going behind the net to play the puck, it
suddenly bounced straight to the front of the goal, where Kozlov was alone for
the easy tap-in.
``We can't use that as an excuse,'' Ribeiro said. ``That's part of the game.
We could have scored one like that. We've got to bounce back and play better
Kozlov earlier tied the game 1-1 when he squeezed between defensemen Patrice
Brisebois and Markov and put a short backhander between Theodore's legs.
Theodore argued the whistle had blown before Kozlov scored on a second chance.
``The first goal, I had it, the referee blew the whistle and then he got his
rebound and scored,'' Theodore said. ``And that caused the second goal.''
Markov gave Montreal the lead in the first period when his wrist shot from
the point deflected off the stick of Panthers wing Juraj Kolnik and over the
right shoulder of Luongo.
The goal snapped a streak of 237 minutes, 34 seconds of shutout hockey by
the Panthers in a coach's debut.
``That's another step forward for our hockey club, going into the third with
a lead and keeping it,'' Torchetti said.