But Thursday night was different for the Anaheim Ducks’ top scorer. Selanne’s had his 19th career three-goal game and Andy McDonald registered four assists to earn the Ducks a 5-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. Earlier on Thursday, Selanne had a phone conversation with a close friend in Finland. The friend has terminal cancer and asked Selanne to send him the puck if he scored three goals.
Selanne promised to oblige but warned the friend that he hadn’t had a hat trick since March 29, 2001, in a game against the Ducks when Selanne played for the San Jose Sharks.
“Today he found out that the cancer has spread to his brain,” Selanne said. “I don’t think he has much time to live.
“So I told him if I scored a hat trick I’d keep the puck. I told him the odds weren’t very good that it would happen. Obviously it was really a sad day today, but what are you going to do? Life is not fair sometimes.”
Hat tricks used to be a regular thing for Selanne, so his first three-goal outburst in almost six years was special for the 36-year-old Finn.
“In old times when I was younger, when I got two I knew I was going to get three and I wanted the third more than those first two,” said Selanne, who has 28 goals this season. “But as you get older, you’re not so greedy anymore.
“It was one of those nights when the puck finds a way to get into the net.”
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 17 shots for the Ducks, who had one victory in their previous six games (1-4-1) after getting off to a franchise-best 28-5-6 start.
Scott Niedermayer and Joe DiPenta added goals for the Ducks, whose 67 points lead the Western Conference despite their recent slump.
“It’s big for us to have the group come out like that and have a full effort right from the start,” said Anaheim centre Ryan Getzlaf.
Niklas Hagman scored for the injury-depleted Stars, 1-4-1 in their last six games.
With the game tied 1-1 late in the second period, Dallas defenceman Philippe Boucher received a five-minute major and game misconduct for a boarding Anaheim rookie Bjorn Melin. Melin left with a bloody mouth after his face had been driven into the boards, and did not return.
“I had no intent to try to injure him,” Boucher said. “I felt he was going sideways when I went in there.
“The end result was that it cost us the game.”
Anaheim scored twice on the ensuing five-minute power play to take control.
Selanne gave the Ducks the lead for good at 2-1, tucking the puck through the pads of Dallas goaltender Marty Turco at 17:12.
The power play continued and Niedermayer’s deflection for his eighth goal of the season at 18:10 made it 3-1.
DiPenta’s first goal of the season and fourth in 120 career NHL games stretched Anaheim’s advantage to 4-1 at 19:22 of the second.
Selanne added his third of the game at 8:08 of the final period for a 5-1 lead. His shot from the left circle beat Turco at 18:05 of the first period. Anaheim was on a power play as a result of Turco’s roughing penalty at 16:57.
The Stars tied it 1-1 when Hagman converted Mike Ribeiro’s goal-mouth pass at 12:36 of the second period, Hagman’s ninth of the season.
Dallas was without five regulars, including offensive catalyst Mike Modano, who missed his 18th consecutive game with a hip-groin injury and will be out until after the all-star break.
Also out were defenceman Darryl Sydor (upper body injury) and forwards Brenden Morrow (wrist), Steve Ott (ankle) and Matthew Barnaby (concussion).
“We have people in positions that are over their heads,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “Our young players aren’t good enough right now.”
Notes: Stars D Sergei Zubov will have minor surgery Friday for an undisclosed upper body injury and will return after the all-star break, missing three games. The surgery has been scheduled for some time to repair an ongoing problem . . . The Ducks improved to 14-6-3 on the road . . . Anaheim G Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s groin injury hasn’t improved as fast as the team hoped, and Giguere probably will be out until after the all-star break . . . Dallas has lost its last three at home.