Fan Appreciation Night at the Honda Center and the final home game of the year in Anaheim. Possibly the final home game of Teemu Selanne’s illustrious career. Clearly the Edmonton Oilers did not get the memo and spoiled any chance of Anaheim finishing off the season at home on a high note by earning a 2-1 victory over the Ducks.
There did seem to be a memo stating that only people named Teemu could score.
Oilers rookie, Teemu Hartikainen, got Edmonton on the board just :15 seconds into the game. Hartikainen beat Jonas Hiller again at 6:04 and the Ducks were playing catch up the remainder of the evening.
Hartikainen, who is nearly half the age of Selanne, played his first game against his boyhood idol.
“He was the biggest hockey player when I was growing up,” Hartikainen said. “I look at Teemu like kind of my idol. We didn’t have NHL on TV, but every Saturday morning we had this show that showed a lineup of games and usually Selanne was on there, too. He was kind of the biggest hockey player — and he still is the biggest hockey player in Finland.”
Selanne is pretty big here, too.
Towards the end of the first period, Selanne tipped in Niklas Hagman’s shot at 14:12. That cut the Oilers lead in half.
It appeared that the Ducks might tie up the game at the end of the second period, but Ryan Getzlaf’s shot clearly went in past Devan Dubnyk when time had already expired. That was as close as the Ducks could get.
They had several power play opportunities, including a 4 on 3 and a 5 on 3, but could not convert on anything. At one point, it appeared that the game was only allowed to be played in the Oilers end. Despite 33 shots on goal (compared to only 15 for Edmonton), the Ducks could only get sniffs at the net.
Selanne nearly became the hero to write a fitting end to Teemu appreciation night. Late in the third period, with time running out, the Flash turned on the jets and came in on Dubnyk.
“Last shift — he almost scored against me,” Hartikainen said. “I was the last guy. Oh my God, he’s a fast guy. He’s really fast. [I’m thinking] ‘Don’t do it. Don’t do it.'”
Selanne did not, much to the crowd’s dismay. They spent the majority of the game chanting “one more year” and with nearly five minutes to go in the game, broke into a spontaneous standing ovation for their favorite player. Selanne was saluted even by his teammates, who joined in the accolades, and finally Selanne nudged the referee to drop the puck and get on with it already.
“It’s almost funny that they’re chanting that for an old guy like me,” said the ever humble Selanne. “But it’s great. Obviously there’s a lot of respect for our fans. I’ve always had a very special relationship with the fans … It’s an honor to hear that. Obviously I’m going to have another tough decision to make. But like said, I don’t really know what’s going to happen. I’m going to stick with my plan and just take some time off and see how I feel.”
No one wants to see Selanne retire. Clearly there is still more in the tank.
“He can definitely play another three years,” said former Duck and now Oiler defenseman Ryan Whitney. “He’s so fast and quick and in such good shape. He’s one of those guys that’s blessed with everything.”
On the plus side, Selanne is now saying he’ll make a decision to play or retire later on this summer. Earlier in the season, he was sure this was going to be his last go round.
Never say never, Teemu. I agree with Whitney, at this rate, he still has another year or two or three in him.