SUNRISE, Fla. - If the Anaheim Ducks are going to make a serious run at the postseason in 2012, they’re going to have to rely on their ageless wonder, 41-year-old Teemu Selanne. With Selanne as the catalyst, the Ducks were able to shut out the Florida Panthers 2-0 Sunday afternoon at the BankAtlantic Center.
Selanne scored his 20th goal of the season in the contest, and former Panther Niklas Hagman added an empty net goal with 15 seconds left in the game. Hagman, a third round pick by the Panthers in 1999, scored his ninth goal of the year on the empty-netter
“He’s just … he’s a wonder,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said of Selanne. “He could have had a couple today. Florida is where older people come, right? He comes here and he thrives. This is good. It really adds a dimension to the rest of our team when he’s going. We need that scoring from him.”
“He’s scored so many goals, I don’t even know where we would be without him this year,” Goalie Jonas Hiller, who stopped all 31 Panthers shots, added. “He’s still one of the quickest guys out there and he knows where to go. It seems like he always is at the right spot where he gets the greasy goals and it’s really important for us, especially on the road, where we don’t score too many goals.”
After a fight between Krys Barch and George Parros gave Anaheim momentum. 12:13 into the period, Ducks forward Saku Koivu intercepted the puck in the offensive zone along the left wing boards. He passed it to Bobby Ryan at the top of the left circle. Ryan’s shot was stopped by José Théodore
but the rebound came out in front, and Selanne pounced on the puck, getting to the right of Theodore’s pads to score the goal.
Selanne brushed off the 20-goal milestone, but he was honored when he found out his 17 20-plus-goal seasons puts him in elite company.
“That’s a big honor and it’s almost overwhelming to hear your own name in the same group with those guys,” Selanne said. “It’s unbelievable obviously. I could never imagine that I could climb up with those guys.”
Those guys include Brendan Shannon, who he passed with the goal tonight. The career 657 goal scorer is tied with Marcel Dionne, Mike Gartner, Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Jaromir Jagr, Mark Messier, Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin.
Anaheim has jumped up in the standings as of late, but still finds themselves on the outside looking in. After an atrocious 7-13-4 start, the Ducks fired coach Randy Carlyle and hired Boudreau, who had been fired by the Washington Capitals just hours before. Boudreau has guided his Ducks to a 17-11-6 record since. Anaheim reached the 60 point plateau with the win, but despite being five points out of the final playoff spot, they have four teams to climb over with just 23 games to go.
On the Panthers side, it was the first time they had lost three consecutive games in regulation. They’ve scored just three goals over that stretch. Théodore stopped 25 of 26 shots he faced, with his only blemish coming at Selanne’s hands.
“That’s the way hockey’s played,” Théodore said. “Sometimes we score four or five goals and we’re not really sharp. I thought tonight we played hard and got some chances, but Hiller made some good saves. Maybe we’re holding our sticks a little tight right now.”
The Panthers had prime opportunity just minutes after Selanne’s goal, as Lubomir Visnovsky took a four-minute high sticking call. The Panthers could not score, or even get a single shot off, during the four minute man advantage in the first frame. Florida had other chances in the game, but despite outshooting Anaheim in the second and third, that powerplay appeared to knock the wind out of their sails.
Anaheim returns to action on the west coast of Florida Tuesday night, when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning. On the other hand, the Panthers stay at home. They will host their annual charity golf tournament Monday morning, and return to the practice ice Tuesday in preparation for Thursday night’s tilt with the Minnesota Wild.
- Forward Matt Bradley left the game with a upper body injury. In the second period Bradley slammed into the boards when he tried to body-check Parros, who got out of the way at the last second. Florida is expected to make a call-up from the AHL to fill his spot
- Forward Stephen Weiss played in his 613th game, all with the Panthers. He tied Radek Dvorak’s mark as the most played in a Panthers uniform. He is slated to break that record Thursday.
- 15,945 fans attended the game, including baseball star Manny Ramirez
- Forward Kris Versteeg was fined $2,500 for his cross-check on Capitals’ Jeff Halpern Friday night. The incident occurred at 19:57 of the third period. No penalty was assessed on the play.
- Florida maintains a two-point lead on the Washington Capitals in the Southeast Division. With the Winnipeg Jets 5-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, they move to within just one point of the Panthers.
- Jonas Hiller (ANA) W, SO, 31 SV
- Temu Selanne (ANA) GWG
- José Théodore (FLA) L, 26 SV