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Muckalt breaks out for two goals, injures foot

10/16/2002

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Bill Muckalt finally broke out as a scorer and his reward could be a broken foot.

Muckalt, who failed to score a goal last season with Ottawa, broke his 75-game drought with two goals, and Manny Fernandez made 30 saves as the Minnesota Wild beat the Florida Panthers 4-1 Tuesday night.

Muckalt hadn't scored since April 2, 2001, when his New York Islanders beat Pittsburgh.

He gave the Wild a 1-0 lead at 6:20 of the first period on a
rebound. But the goal was bittersweet since he was slashed on his
right foot during the shift.

"The X-rays don't look good,'' a limping Muckalt said after the game. He was scheduled to undergo more tests on Wednesday to determine if he has a possible fracture.

Muckalt, who also scored an empty-net goal with 2.8 seconds left, played in pain the rest of the game.

After spending last season with Ottawa, the Wild signed the
fifth-year NHL player and hoped he could become a good checker. On
Tuesday, he poked in a loose puck that was deflected off a shot by
Jason Marshall to beat Roberto Luongo.

"Just went to the net sniffing around, the puck squirted out and I just threw it in,'' Muckalt said.

He didn't want to talk about last season's struggles.

"It really doesn't matter,'' he said. "What's good is that the team is off to a good start, and I feel I'm off to a good start.''

Antti Laaksonen and Brad Bombardir also scored for Minnesota,
unbeaten after three games (2-0-1). Fernandez didn't allow a goal
until 13:16 of the second period when he was beaten by Niklas
Hagman.

In his second start, Fernandez was again dominating, stopping flurries of shots and bringing the crowd to its feet on glove saves.

"It's tough to get him when he's on a roll like that,'' Florida
center Viktor Kozlov said.

On the other end, Luongo finished with 23 saves, including three
impressive stops on breakaways. But the 23-year-old goaltender's
teammates couldn't muster much offense against Fernandez.

Florida coach Mike Keenan benched right wing href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/players/profile?statsId=1233">Valeri Bure in the first period for failing to clear the puck from his zone while the Panthers were short-handed.

"Valeri again just didn't want to do what the coaches asked him
to do,'' Keenan said. But the coach wasn't only down on Bure.

"I can't think of one hockey player tonight that played well. Not one,'' he said.

Laaksonen made it 2-0 on a short-handed breakaway at 7:49 of the
first period. Heading full speed at Luongo, Laaksonen faked the and
beat him on the glove side.

Minnesota went up 3-0 on a power play in the second period when
Marian Gaborik found Bombardir, who only scored one goal last
season, wide open on the left side of the net. Gaborik, who led the
Wild with 30 goals last season, has yet to find the back of the net
but has three assists over the last two games.

Hagman scored on a power play for Florida on an assist from
Stephen Weiss to pull the Panthers to 3-1. Hagman took Weiss' pass
from the right circle and tapped it past Fernandez's glove.

"Florida seemed to turn it up in the second period. They forechecked a lot better, but we held on and played better in the third,'' Bombardir said.

Game notes
The teams played their only game of the season against each other. Minnesota leads the series 2-1-1. ... Wild coach Jacques Lemaire picked up his 300th win as an NHL head coach. Lemaire, in his 10th coaching season, also coached Montreal and New Jersey. He's 300-247-95. ... Wild rookie F Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Minnesota's first-round draft pick, picked up consecutive tripping penalties in the second period.