Selanne, closing on 500 career goals, passed up scoring chances Sunday night and set up his linemates instead. He finished with a career-high five assists in the Anaheim Ducks’ 6-4 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.
“Teemu is just three away from that goals milestone, and tonight just shows what an unselfish player he is,” said Kunitz, whose final goal broke a 4-4 tie midway through the third period. “Teemu’s looking for us to get the two points (for a win). He’s just as happy with an assist as he is with a goal.”
Selanne mostly was happy that the Ducks were able to win a close game, their third victory over the Coyotes this season and eighth in a row overall.
“It was not that pretty a win,” said the Finn. “We let them come back.”
Asked about the approaching milestone, he smiled and said, “It’s coming. I’m not a numbers guy, and I don’t really want to start thinking about it. When I see guys open, I try to get the puck to them. I think that’s what makes a good player, making the right decisions.
“When it’s time to shoot, you shoot, when it’s time to pass, you pass. You want to do the right thing.”
Kunitz’s third goal came on a deflection at 9:21 of the third period off a 45-foot shot by Selanne. Curtis Joseph almost blocked the puck, but it trickled past him and across the line to give Kunitz his 13th goal of the season.
Rob Niedermayer added an empty-net goal with 2.8 seconds left, his second score of the season.
The other two goals by Kunitz, a left-winger from Regina, were scored in the second period.
Andy McDonald had two goals and two assists for the Ducks. Ed Jovanovski led Phoenix with a goal and two assists.
Anaheim took 30 shots at Joseph, while the Coyotes had 28 on Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said that, despite the loss, the Coyotes played well.
“We did a lot of good things, and physically we played hard,” Gretzky said. “They (the Ducks) are a really good hockey club with a lot of depth and a lot of talent.
“We made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized.”
The Coyotes’ Mike Zigomanis tied it at 2:07 of the third period. Georges Laraque, whose goal late in the second period pulled Phoenix within 4-3, set up Zigomanis’ third of the season with a pass from the boards behind the goal-line on the right side.
Laraque got his fourth goal of the season when he deflected Jovanovski’s long shot in at 19:24 of the second period.
After the Coyotes’ Yanic Perreault scored on a power play at 11:56 of the second to trim Anaheim’s lead to 3-2, Kunitz quickly built the Ducks’ lead back to two. Kunitz beat Joseph between the pads at 12:57 of the period.
Selanne made a fine play to set up Kunitz’s goal that gave Anaheim a 3-1 lead early in the second period. Weaving his way through defenders as he skated toward the crease from near the goal line on the right side, Selanne waited until Joseph had to commit to that side, then slid the puck across the crease.
Kunitz was there to knock it in.
“Teemu is great at holding the puck until the last second, then getting it to you,” Kunitz said.
Jovanovski gave Phoenix a quick lead with his 50-foot slap shot at 3:09, but McDonald evened it on a power play at 7:53.
Notes: Selanne’s five assists tied the club record set by Dmitri Mironov on Dec. 12, 1997, against Washington. The five-point game was the seventh of Selanne’s career . . . Anaheim is 13-0-1 against the Coyotes since Nov. 9, 2003 . . . McDonald’s two-goal game was the eighth of his career and first this season.