Fernandez outduels Luongo; Wild top Canucks in SO

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Manny Fernandez entered Tuesday night's
game against rival Vancouver determined to put his last ugly outing
behind him.

He did just that, saving 30 shots in a duel with Roberto Luongo,
who was beat on a nifty double-move backhander by Petteri Nummelin
in the shootout that lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 2-1 victory
over the Canucks.

"He was more lively, more into it," coach Jacques Lemaire said
of Fernandez. "You could see he wanted to have a good game."

With Luongo at the other end, he had to be. Fernandez was pulled
after the first period of his previous start when he allowed three
goals on the first six shots he faced against Nashville on

That wouldn't do against Luongo, who saved 35 shots against the
Wild before the tiebreaker, but faltered in the shootout.

Fernandez stopped two of the four shots he faced in the
shootout, and the Wild made Luongo look silly after he was stellar
in regulation.

Mikko Koivu beat him in the second round, and after Jan Bulis
fired a shot into Fernandez's pads, Nummelin came in slowly,
hesitated and lifted a backhander over Luongo's glove to win it,
improving the Wild to 3-0 for the first time in franchise history.

"I made the move to shoot the forehand and came back to the
backhand," said Nummelin, a surprise pick over the offensively
gifted Marian Gaborik, who struggled in shootouts last year.

Luongo saved just one of four shots in the shootout, while
Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison scored for the Canucks.

"I've just got to be a little more patient on those fakes,"
Luongo said.

These teams have forged quite a rivalry the past few years,
especially after the upstart Wild beat the heavily favored Canucks
in the second round of the 2003 playoffs en route to a stunning run
to the Western Conference finals.

But the Canucks and Wild made wholesale changes in the offseason
and brought entirely new looks into the Xcel Energy Center on
Tuesday night.

Vancouver got rid of agitators Todd Bertuzzi and Jarkko Ruutu,
two of the biggest targets for Xcel angst, let Ed Jovanovski leave
in free agency and replaced hard-nosed coach Marc Crawford with
Alain Vigneault.

They also added defenseman Willie Mitchell and Luongo, one of
the NHL's top netminders, shoring up the team's biggest weakness in
a trade with Florida for Bertuzzi.

The Wild went on a surprising spending spree, forking out
millions for Mark Parrish, Keith Carney and Kim Johnsson, trading
for Pavol Demitra and signing Gaborik to a contract extension.

Despite all the changes, the game had a familiar feel. Up and
down the ice. Few solid scoring chances. Aggressive checking. Close

"I thought we played a good game," said Mitchell, a former
Wild defenseman. "Manny made some great saves for them, and
Roberto made some great saves for us."

The Canucks finally got on the board midway through the second
period, when Daniel Sedin set up behind Minnesota's net, slipped a
pass underneath Wes Walz's stick to feed Taylor Pyatt, who sneaked
in unchecked near the right circle.

Fernandez didn't stand a chance, and watched the puck get past
him high on the glove side to make it 1-0. That was all he would

"He was awesome," Nummelin said of Fernandez. "He saved us.
Just unbelievable."

After not getting many chances in the first two periods,
Minnesota put the pressure on with two power plays in the third,
finally breaking through with a fluke goal on its second chance.

Brian Rolston caught the Canucks on a change and crept in on
Luongo's left side just under 12 minutes into the period. He
shoveled the puck toward the slot, and it hit off Vancouver
defenseman Lukas Krajicek's skate and ricocheted through Luongo's
legs to tie the game.

"We didn't win tonight but I thought our guys played extremely
well," Vigneault said.

Game notes
The game started at 8 p.m. Central time, an hour later than
normal for Wild home games, to accommodate Canadian television. ...
Vancouver C Ryan Kesler left the game late in the second period
after getting walloped by D Kurtis Foster. Kesler wobbled off the
ice and didn't return.