ANAHEIM, Calif. – Teemu Selanne became the 18th player in NHL history to score 600 goals, reaching the milestone Sunday night in the Anaheim Ducks’ 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
The only other European-born players in the 600-goal club are Finnish countryman Jari Kurri (601) and the Czech Republic’s Jaromir Jagr (646).
The 39-year-old Selanne is the fourth player to reach the milestone in the last four seasons, along with Jagr, Brendan Shanahan, and Joe Sakic.
Selanne connected 34 seconds into the second period on his fifth shot of the game, scoring into a wide-open net during a power play with goalie Craig Anderson out of position after a furious scramble in front of the crease.
“I guess that was the easiest I’ve had in a while,” Selanne said. “I’ve had a lot of chances the last three games, but nothing went in. Then you get one of those. It’s amazing the way my teammates have been feeding me the puck. I think they wanted this more than I did. Obviously, it’s a great feeling, and I don’t have to think about it anymore.”
Anderson became the 133rd goalie that Selanne has scored against in the regular season. Selanne’s first NHL goal came against San Jose’s Jeff Hackett on Oct. 8, 1992.
“I remember that like it was yesterday – Cow Palace against the Sharks,” Selanne said. “There have been a lot of goals between one and 600. Time is flying. It’s unbelievable how fast it goes. If somebody would have told me at that time that I was going to score 600 goals in this league, I would call the doctor.”
Selanne assisted on a power-play goal win by Ryan Getzlaf, the 648th assist of Selanne’s career and the second-lowest total among players who have scored 600 goals. Bobby Hull had 560 assists – but son Brett finished his career with just two more than Selanne has now.
Selanne also was on the winning side when he scored his 100th, 200th, 300th and 400th NHL goals. But the Ducks lost 3-2 at Colorado in a shootout when he got his 500th goal on Nov. 22, 2006.
Selanne holds the Ducks’ record with 373 goals, most of them with Paul Kariya as his linemate. His latest milestone came just three days after Kariya got his 400th goal.
“I texted him after that game and told him: ‘Maybe I’ll get my 600th soon, too,”‘ Selanne said. “Numbers-wise, I had my best years here with Paul and we helped each other so much. Not very often can you find the same chemistry that we had. It was amazing, and they were great memories.”
Selanne burst upon the NHL landscape with the Winnipeg Jets – now the Phoenix Coyotes – after being taken with the 10th overall pick in the 1988 draft. Selanne finished his rookie season with 76 goals, tying Alexander Mogilny for the league lead.
In addition to shattering Mike Bossy’s previous rookie record of 53 goals, Selanne had 110 points to break Peter Stastny’s rookie record and run away with the Calder Trophy. The 10-time all-star was the recipient of the first two Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophies as the NHL’s top goal scorer in 1997-98 (52) and 1998-99 (47) and won his first Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007.
Selanne has 21 goals this season, which probably will be his final one in the NHL. He missed 17 games because of a broken hand, another seven with a fractured jaw, and one more because of flu-like symptoms. Last season, he sat out the first half of the schedule while contemplating retirement.
Selanne, Luc Robitaille and Mario Lemieux are the only players ever to score 600 goals after winning the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. Robitaille also reached the milestone at Anaheim, on Nov. 9, 2001, while playing for Detroit.