Who knows if Teemu Selanne will end his career after this season? Even Selanne does not seem to know the answer to that, and those around him have long since given up guessing. One this is sure – as long as he is playing to this caliber, it would be a crying shame to have him retire.
Selanne scored both of Anaheim’s goals in a 2-1 victory of the Los Angeles Kings. Selanne seems to enjoy playing against the Kings, having scored 50 goals against them during his career. The Kings would probably prefer to see the 40 year old ageless wonder just retire and be done with it.
The Kings had already clinched a playoff berth, but the Ducks were still needing two points to get in. Ryan Smyth scored first for the Kings at 11:22 of the first period. Smyth put a puck behind Dan Ellis, who continued in net after Ray Emery pulled himself out of the previous game with a lower body injury.
Emery deemed himself not even available as a back up, so Jonas Hiller sat on the bench with his perpetual vertigo, likely praying he did not have to go into the game. Fortunately, he did not have to, with Ellis making 23 saves for the win.
Selanne tied up the game at 9:55 of the second period and then put the Ducks ahead at 5:54 of the third. The game winning goal came from a phenomenal pass from Saku Koivu, who placed the puck perfectly on Teemu’s stick, even though Koivu was off balance and falling to the ice. The standing room only crowd there for fan appreciation night erupted as the Ducks went ahead.
Selanne’s 30th and 31st goals give him a total of 1,340 career points, putting him at 27th on the all time list. It is now his 10th career 30 goal plus season.
The Kings were unable to tie up the game, even after pulling Jonathan Quick from the net. They could have pulled him earlier, because the Ducks could not hit the wide open net if they tried (and they tried at least three times and failed miserably on each one).
The Ducks got two points and clinched a playoff berth for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
“We believed it could happen,” Selanne said. “And good things happen when you believe. It has been a grind for the last three months. I really believed that this team deserved to be in the playoffs. This was a big step forward. Now we can breathe a little bit.”
Only a little bit. Less than 24 hours later, the Ducks get to repeat this all over again with the Kings, this time at Staples Center. At stake is the possibility of a home ice advantage at least in the first round. A second victory in a row would at minimum put them ahead of the Kings in the standings. Depending upon what Nashville and Phoenix do in their Saturday games will determine if the Ducks can secure 4th place in the conference.
For now, the Ducks are in the playoffs, and that is a huge step from where they were last season.