A collective sigh of relief could be felt when Teemu Selanne finally scored goal #600 at :34 seconds into the second period. It was a power play goal, #216 of Selanne’s career that moves him in sole possession of 10th place on the all-time list. The trivia answers will be Scott Niedermayer and Corey Perry with the assists. Colorado Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson was the goaltender who let the puck in.
“I guess that was the easiest that I have had in a while,” Selanne said amidst a throng of reporters and photographers after the game. “It’s funny how it works. I’ve that I have had a lot of chances the last three or four games, but nothing was going in. Then you get one of those on a great effort from Corey and Scotty.”
Mayhem, joy, celebration! Not just on the ice, but in the stands and even a few standing in the press box to acknowledge the accomplishment. That made the game against Colorado 3-0, but at the moment it seemed like a side note to what really mattered.
In the end, a 5-2 victory over the Avalanche and two more points in the standings, in a situation where all the games are must-win, were just the icing on the cake.
Unlike the last time these two teams met on March 3, the Ducks did not give up a two goal lead. Their specialty teams kicked in, scoring three power play goals and one short-handed goal. Jonas Hiller made 26 saves and it was an overall strong group effort.
Jason Blake got his second power play goal in as many games at 4:43 of the first period. He worked hard with the puck behind the net and to get it in front of the net before putting it in past Anderson.
Then Matt Beleskey got his eighth goal of the year filling in for Bobby Ryan (out with “flu-like” symptoms) on the top line. The set-up was a beauty from Ryan Getzlaf, who dropped the puck back to Beleskey. Beleskey was perfectly situated in the slot to finish off the one-timer at 11:43. Like Blake, it was Beleskey’s second goal in as many games.
The Ducks finished the period in the middle of a power play, with John-Michael Liles in the box for hooking. When the Ducks resumed their power play, it only took :34 seconds for history to be made.
Anderson was sprawled, trying to prevent a chance from Perry. Perry managed to get the puck to Niedermayer, who then dished it to Selanne.
“I knocked it to him,” said Niedermayer, who earned his 200th assist as a Duck on the play. “He did the rest. He knows how to score goals. It’s a great accomplishment. Not many guys have done that.”
15,528 was the announced crowd. That meant 1,646 more could have been in the building to witness the 18th person scoring 600 goals and only the third European, after Jaromir Jagr and fellow Finn, Jari Kurri.
Coach Randy Carlyle, who was a teammate of Selanne’s during the Finnish Flash’s rookie year in Winnipeg, had the privilege of seeing the very first goal scored as well as #600.
“It seems like a long time ago,” said Carlyle, “but it really isn’t. This is what he was born and bred to do. He can score from anywhere.”
Selanne, who had eight more shots on goal tonight, credited his teammates.
“The way my linemates were feeding me has been amazing,” said Selanne, truly enjoying the moment. “I think they wanted this more than I did! It’s a great feeling.”
Carlyle expressed gratitude that #600 had been scored so that they could “turn the page” and move forward.
The Ducks did not let up. Later in the second period, Troy Bodie got his first short-handed goal ever at 12:45. Chris Stewart bumbled the puck and Bodie roofed it behind Anderson to make it 4-0. That was it for the goaltender who has been a huge part of Colorado’s unexpected success this year. Peter Budaj was inserted in the net and he did his part admirably, keeping the Avs in the game.
“They came out pretty good,” said Anderson. “Anytime you go down by a couple of goals, it’s tough to climb back into the game.”
Colorado did try to climb back. Early in the third period Darcy Tucker had a very nice shot that made it past Hiller at 2:06. Then at 5:15, Ruslan Salei brought the Avs within two goals. That was all they could muster.
Getzlaf got the third power play goal of the game at 7:50, with Selanne assisting. Free wings at Hooters for the fans for the second game in a row.
Most important of all was the win that keeps the Ducks in the playoff hunt. As long as they continue to win games, there is still a chance. Now if a few teams would lose a couple games, that might help, but the Ducks can only control what they do. So far, they are getting the job done.
Ahead is a Canadian road trip with three games in four days. More points to be won and they won’t be easy.