Selanne enjoys special night as Ducks defeat Jets

The SportsXchange

WINNIPEG -- Teemu Selanne might have been thousands of kilometres away from his home rink Sunday night but you'd never have known it.

The legendary Anaheim Ducks right winger was back in Winnipeg, where his career started more than two decades ago, and based on the reaction from the sold-out crowd at the MTS Centre, it was as if he never left.

"In some ways, I felt like I was on the home team because the people were so excited," he said following the Ducks' 3-2 victory. "This is a very special building. I always try to find people that I know (in the seats) and again I found people that I remember."

Selanne said Winnipeg will always have a special place in his heart because the community embraced him when he was just a "young boy."

"This organization and this city really made me feel so special and at home. If you're a hockey player in this town, you're a very special person," he said.

Selanne won the Rookie of the Year award in 1992-93 after shattering Mike Bossy's scoring record of 53 goals. He scored 76 in his first of nearly four seasons in Winnipeg. He was traded to Anaheim in February 1996, shortly before the first incarnation of the team moved to the Arizona desert.

And while he conceded this is the last time he'll play in Winnipeg during the regular season, it might not be his swan song in the city.

"It would be nice to play in front of this crowd (again). Who knows, maybe we'll play in the playoffs," he said.

Skating on a line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, Selanne had four shots on goal and it didn't take a genius to see they were feeding him. He said he's confident they could create some good chemistry if they play a few more games together, but he's not sure who he'll be playing with from day to day.

"Bruce (Boudreau) likes to change lines like he changes underwear," he said with a grin.

The game appeared headed for overtime -- and a possible shootout in which Selanne certainly would have participated -- when Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian fanned on an outlet pass with less than six minutes to go, then blew a tire as the puck landed softly on Perry's stick in the slot. The 2010-11 NHL Most Valuable Player quickly roofed it over Jets goalie

Ondrej Pavelec.

Bogosian, perhaps trying to make up for his gaffe, then took a boarding penalty with 3:27 left in the game.

To his credit, Bogosian faced the media afterward. When the play was described to him, he said, "That about sums it up."

Jets coach Claude Noel wasn't about to pin the loss on one of his top rearguards, however.

"If you're looking for the one mistake, these things sometimes happen," he said.

"We didn't deserve to win the game playing like that. We got saved by our goalie. Realistically, our goalie has saved us in all three games (this season). He's been superb, not average, superb. We played in spurts, tonight there were very few spurts."

Jets captain Andrew Ladd also backed up Bogosian.

"It's a tough break, (Bogosian) slips and the puck ends up in the wrong area and in the net. It's not his fault at all, and it's on everybody else in the room. To take a step back against Anaheim, obviously not the way you want to do it, but at this point, we need to come back on Tuesday, start working on what we didn't do well in this game and move forward," he said.

Ladd opened the scoring just over nine minutes into the first period with a power-play goal, his first marker of the season, assisted by Blake Wheeler and Toby Enstrom.

The Ducks took 70 seconds to respond when Mathieu Perrault collected a loose puck in front of the Jets net and roofed it past a prone Pavelec, with assists to Ben Lovejoy and Jakob Silfverberg.

Ladd restored the one-goal lead at 16:17 of the first period, assisted by Wheeler and Little.

The Ducks tied the game with four seconds left in the second period when Andrew Cogliano deflected a point shot behind Pavelec, who made 31 saves in a losing effort.

Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth stopped 15 shots.

The love-in with Selanne started when the Ducks arrived at their hotel Saturday night, and the popular Finn was met by a small throng of fans looking for autographs and pictures. It continued Sunday before and after the Ducks' pregame skate as Selanne again had his Sharpie in constant motion. And once the teams arrived at the rink, well, it was Teemu-mania.

He was cheered during the warm-up, during the national anthem when he was shown on the scoreboard screen, every time he touched the puck and when he came out for a farewell lap as the game's first star.

The first in-game standing ovation came just past the halfway mark of the first period when the Jets' public address announcer passed on True North Sports & Entertainment's congratulations to Selanne for the many accomplishments during his career.

Selanne acknowledged the gesture and the fans by standing and waving in all directions.

NOTES: The Jets entered Sunday's game with two straight wins to start the season for the first time since relocating from Atlanta for the 2011-12 season. ... Scratches for the Ducks were D Sheldon Souray (wrist), RW Emerson Etem (lower body) and D Luca Sbisa (lower body). ... The Jets activated D Grant Clitsome before the game. ... Selanne collected two assists the last time he played in Winnipeg on Dec. 18, 2011. As they did in that game, Jets fans cheered every time Selanne touched the puck and booed whenever one of his linemates had it. ... Jets C Olli Jokinen, who scored his 300th NHL goal last week, is the fourth-highest scoring Finnish player of all time, trailing Selanne, Jari Kurri and Saku Koivu. ... During a media scrum following the Ducks' pregame skate, Selanne said his favorite moment during his tenure with the Jets was March 2, 1993, the night he scored his 54th goal of the season, breaking Mike Bossy's NHL rookie record. He celebrated by throwing one of his gloves in the air and using his stick to shoot it down. "Now that I look back at it, I'm a little embarrassed," Selanne said with a smile. He finished with 76 goals, a record that still stands.
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