He was the captain of the Finnish team that upset the United States for the bronze medal at the world junior championship here in January 2006. Then on Monday night, he scored the last two Anaheim goals, including the overtime winner, to give the Ducks a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in NHL pre-season play.
Wirtanen ended the game when he finished a three-on-two break with a shot that deflected past Vancouver netminder Drew MacIntyre.
“I saw two guys going at the net and I just took a shot and the D-man probably hit it and it just bounced it past him,” Wirtanen said. “I’ll take it.”
The puck hit the stick of Canuck defenceman Luc Bourdon, Vancouver’s first-round pick and 10th overall in the 2005 entry draft.
Bourdon, who played nine NHL games last season before he was returned to junior, was on the ice for all three Anaheim goals.
Wirtanen gave the Stanley Cup champions a 2-0 lead in the second period when he found a Brad May rebound lying near the goal line beside Vancouver starting netminder Curtis Sanford.
And, despite his offensive output, the modest Wirtanen, a six-foot-one, 195-pound centre from Hyvinkaa, doesn’t consider himself a sniper and is looking to impress the Ducks as a defensive forward.
“I don’t think they’re going to think I’m a goal-scorer so I just try to play an all-around good game, killing penalties and five-on-five,” said Wirtanen, who had seven goals and 18 points in 67 games last season with the American Hockey League’s Portland Pirates.
“I was just trying to play simple and be in the right spot at the right time. That’s my game.”
Defenceman Nathan MacIver and Daniel Sedin, who tied the game with 4:16 remaining in regulation time, scored for the Canucks, the defending Northwest Division champions.
George Parros opened the scoring for Anaheim which was playing its third exhibition game in three nights and improved to 2-1-1.
Parros, who led the Ducks with 102 penalty minutes in only 34 games last season, banged in another Brad May rebound for Anaheim which ousted the Canucks in five games in the second round of the playoffs.
MacIver jumped into the play to collect a perfect centring pass from Ryan Shannon and fire the last Canuck shot past starting netminder Ilya Bryzgalov who was relieved by J. P. Levasseur.
Daniel Sedin tied the game at 15:44 of the third period when he took a pass from Henrik Sedin, skated to the front of the net and faked goalie Levasseur to the ice.
NOTES: The Ducks have a penchant for opening their regular season on foreign ice. They’ll play the Los Angeles Kings in London on Sept. 29-30. They faced the Canucks in Nagano, Japan on Oct. 3, 1997. . . . Ex-Canuck Todd Bertuzzi, who signed a US$4-million free-agent contract with the Ducks on July 2, did not dress. . . . Duck defenceman Mathieu Schneider has a fractured left ankle and is expected to be out for a month.