ANAHEIM, Calif. – Teemu Selanne had barely taken off his jersey in the Anaheim Ducks’ locker room when Corey Perry serenaded him with the same chant he had just heard on the Honda Center ice.
“One more year! One more year!” the NHL’s goal-scoring leader yelled at the 40-year-old Finnish Flash.
The Ducks needed every one of Selanne’s five magnificent points to hold on to a game they nearly overlooked in their playoff chase.
Selanne had three goals and two assists, rookie Cam Fowler scored the tiebreaking power-play goal early in the third period, and the Ducks beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 Monday night for their eighth victory in 10 games.
Selanne is the first player in NHL history to record both three goals and five points in a single game while in his 40s.
Selanne evoked a shower of hats with his usual grace and style, scoring his first penalty-shot goal in 18 years during Anaheim’s three-goal second period before nimbly completing his 22nd career hat trick on a power play with 4:49 remaining. His ninth career five-point game kept Anaheim one point in front of defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago for seventh place in the West.
“We’ve won some big games in a row, but if you lose games like this, those points are useless,” said Selanne, who hadn’t scored on a penalty shot since Fowler was 15 months old. “We had a tough road trip, and maybe that’s why we were sluggish (early). We came back and found a way to win the game. Our line did a lot of damage. We wanted to give the big line a night off.”
Indeed, the Ducks even survived without a goal from Perry, who had eight in his previous five games to take the overall NHL lead from Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos with 44 goals this season.
Selanne moved into a three-way tie for eighth on the season scoring chart with 75 points. With five goals in three games, he’s showing absolutely no signs of slowing down in his 18th NHL season—and his longtime Anaheim fans want the party to continue for another year.
After postponing his retirement plans to return for another campaign last summer, Selanne hasn’t divulged whether he might do it again.
“My mind goes—it’s like an elevator,” Selanne said. “That’s why I’m not even going to think about it during the season.”
Jason Blake also scored and Ray Emery made 31 saves while improving to 5-0-0 for the Ducks, who added to their improbable March run of nail-biting victories. With 91 points after sweeping the four-game season series with Colorado, Anaheim is just one point behind Los Angeles and Nashville, tied in fifth place with 92.
Just two days after returning from a gruelling road trip featuring two late rallies past Dallas and Chicago, the Ducks fell behind 2-0 in the first 5 1/2 minutes against the cellar-dwelling Avalanche, who almost certainly will finish in 14th place in the 15-team conference.
“It’s one of those games that I guess we thought was going to be easier than it was,” said Fowler, who became the top rookie scorer in franchise history with nine goals and 27 assists. “They worked hard and got the jump on us, but we realized how important the game was.”
Ryan O’Reilly, Matt Duchene, David Jones and Paul Stastny scored for the Avalanche, who have lost 23 of 26 since late January. Brian Elliott stopped 37 shots for Colorado, and Stastny scored with 41.1 seconds left while Elliott was pulled.
“If you try to shut their top line down, you have to be careful, because the second line is just as dangerous,” Stastny said. “There’s a reason why (Selanne) has 75 points. Him, (Saku) Koivu, Blake, their defencemen—they always jump in, so it doesn’t matter who’s out there. You have to be aware.”
After Colorado’s John-Michael Liles apparently closed his hand on the puck in the crease, Selanne beat Elliott high for his first goal on a penalty shot since March 9, 1993, with the Winnipeg Jets. The goal was just his second on a penalty shot in 1,253 NHL games—and his first in 12 seasons with Anaheim.
After Blake evened it by banking a shot from behind the net off Erik Johnson’s skate, Selanne slammed home a long rebound of Fowler’s shot for his fourth multigoal game of the season.
Jones evened it on a sharp give-and-go with Daniel Winnik late in the second period, but Fowler capitalized on the Ducks’ power play with 17:11 to play, dropping down to one knee to slam home a slow deflection of Selanne’s shot for his ninth goal.
“We came out like we wanted to,” said Elliott, who has given up fewer than three goals in a game just once since March 1. “We were feeling pretty good about our game, and we needed to keep going. I think it kind of woke the beast a little bit, and they came back hard.”
NOTES: Koivu and Lubomir Visnovsky each had two assists. Milan Hejduk had three for Colorado. … The Ducks outscored Colorado 12-4 while winning their first three meetings this season. … Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf limped off the ice and briefly went to the dressing room after a shot hit him in the leg in the second period, but he returned for his next shift. … Selanne is 2 for 6 on penalty shots in his career.