ANAHEIM, Calif. – Teemu Selanne only considered the open net for a fleeting moment before flipping a deft pass back to Saku Koivu.
Selanne easily could have scored his 652nd career goal, but the Finnish Flash couldn’t pass up the chance to facilitate his longtime Olympic teammate’s second career hat trick in the Anaheim Ducks’ third straight victory.
Koivu scored two of his three goals on slick setups by Selanne in the third period, and the Ducks beat the Dallas Stars 5-2 Tuesday night to extend their longest winning streak in nearly three months.
Koivu scored the tie-breaking goal with 10:28 to play and added an empty-netter with 53.7 seconds left, completing the 37-year-old former Montreal captain’s first hat trick since Nov. 18, 2002.
“So he’s probably not going to get the third one,” the 41-year-old Selanne cracked. “There was no way I would take the shot myself. I knew Saku had a chance to score a hat trick. I’m so happy for him. You don’t see that very often. Usually he’s the passer.”
A runaway victory over a Pacific Division rival was sweet, but the Ducks will take whatever success they can get at the halfway point of their hugely disappointing season. Even after this strong finish to a six-game homestand, the Ducks (13-22-6) are still three points out of 28th place in the 30-team NHL standings.
Jeff Deslauriers made 26 saves in his first NHL appearance in nearly two years for Anaheim, which hadn’t won three straight since starting the season 4-1.
“There’s nothing we can do with the past,” Koivu said. “There have been a lot of positive things in the last little while, even though we haven’t won all the games. We’re scoring goals now, and not allowing a lot of goals. We’re feeling good, and it’s showing.”
Luca Sbisa also scored for Anaheim, and Matt Beleskey added his first goal of the season with 5:20 to play.
Steve Ott and Alex Goligoski scored 64 seconds apart early in the third period to tie it for the Stars, but Selanne grabbed a loose puck and sped past two defencemen before screening both Stars from Koivu, who put Anaheim ahead 3-2.
“They’re an experienced group, and they know how to win,” Dallas captain Brenden Morrow said of the Ducks. “They had a mediocre half of the season last year, too, before they became the best team in the league, so we never take them lightly.”
Selanne made two exceptional passes to Koivu in his 1,300th NHL game, becoming the 52nd player to reach the milestone. Selanne, who scored his 650th career goal in the Ducks’ last game, is just the second Finn to play 1,300 games, joining Teppo Numminen.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 21 shots for the Stars, who had earned a point in each of their past six meetings with Anaheim, including two wins earlier this season.
“I think we hit four posts in the first 20 minutes, so if one of those goes, maybe we’re not pushing so much to try and get those goals in the third,” Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. “I didn’t mind our game altogether. … We just couldn’t get anything to sink there, and I thought they took it to us a little bit.”
With all-star starter Jonas Hiller and backup Dan Ellis both sidelined by injuries, the Ducks recalled Deslauriers from their AHL affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y., earlier Tuesday to suit up alongside Iiro Tarkki, who got his first NHL victory Sunday.
Deslauriers hadn’t appeared in the NHL since April 11, 2010, when he lost to Anaheim while playing for the Edmonton Oilers. The Ducks signed him during the following off-season, but the 27-year-old hadn’t appeared in a game with Anaheim despite shuttling up to the NHL several times last season as an emergency backup.
“Everybody makes me feel like part of the family,” Deslauriers said. “They played their hearts out tonight.”
The Stars played without centre Mike Ribeiro, who missed his first game of the season with a slightly torn ligament in his right knee. Defenceman Sheldon Souray returned from a six-game absence with an injured ankle.
Dallas outshot the Ducks in the first two periods, but trailed 2-0 after Sbisa’s exceptional goal from the far boards midway through the second period.
Ott ended Deslauriers’ shutout bid 1:39 into the third period with an unscreened slap shot that the Anaheim goalie simply missed. Goligoski then put another mid-range shot cleanly past Deslauriers, and Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau chewed out his team during a timeout.
Instead of slumping their shoulders, as they’ve done so often this season, the Ducks attacked. After Selanne set up Koivu’s goal, Beleskey scored his first goal since Jan. 15, 2011, by swatting home a bouncing rebound of Andrew Cogliano’s shot.
NOTES: Ribeiro was hurt on a knee-on-knee hit against Edmonton last Saturday, aggravating a previous injury. The Stars are cautiously optimistic he can return soon, perhaps for Thursday’s game at Los Angeles. … Deslauriers went 20-31-4 with the Oilers over two seasons in his only previous NHL experience. … Stars LW Jamie Benn got stitches above his left eye during the second period.