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
"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 snapped.
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 third period.
"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 than that."
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.
^Notes:@ Torchetti became the sixth consecutive Florida coach to
win his debut. The previous three -- Dudley, Mike Keenan and Duane
Sutter -- won by shutout. ... Montreal All-Star D Sheldon Souray
injured his left knee in a collision with Kolnik late in the third
period and left the ice. He was to be evaluated Wednesday. ...
Kozlov's first goal was his 100th in a Panthers uniform and his
second goal helped him gain sole possession of second place on the
team's scoring list with 291 points. Mellanby leads with 354
points. ... Montreal D Craig Rivet missed his second consecutive
game because of a foot injury.