Oilers beat Ducks 2-1 in home finale
Sunday, 04.01.2012 / 10:40 PMANAHEIM, Calif.
– One player named Teemu started the game with energy, and another finished it with emotion.
A game with little meaning in the standings was significant Sunday as Teemu Selanne
scored a goal in what might have been the final home game of his 19-year career.
Selanne gave the sellout crowd of 17,266 at Honda Center reason to chant "One more year!" after he scored his 663rd career goal in a 2-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers
They also chanted it when they gave him a standing ovation with 5:02 remaining, and again when he did a postgame interview for local television.
"It's almost funny that they're chanting that for an old guy like me," said Selanne, who was still in his skates while talking with the media.
"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."
The 41-year-old Selanne provided a Finnish juxtaposition to Teemu Hartikainen
, 21, who scored twice in the first period for Edmonton.
"We were talking in the faceoff in the second period," Selanne said. "It's funny that the most of the kids are really young – they could be my sons. It's a big honor to be able to still play at this level and play with the kids and against the kids. I'm very thankful for that."
Since he won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007, Selanne has wavered each summer on retirement -- and in the past week he restated that he will make a decision in the offseason. He said again that he will listen to his body in a few months.
"That's the time you have to decide if you're ready to push, because it's a long, hard process," he said. "It has been working for me very well. I've been so honest with myself. Even if I feel, like 90 percent [ready], I can't do it."
"I still feel that I can play well and I don't think my strength and skill is [decreasing]."
At the beginning of this season Selanne said he felt this was his final year. But in the second half he has maintained that he is still having fun, and it's not as if Selanne is slowing down. He leads Anaheim in scoring with 64 points, including 26 goals. Reigning Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry
is second with 58 points.
Selanne had a chance to tie it in the closing seconds when he darted down the left side and put a shot on Devan 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.'"
Hartikainen played his first game against Selanne and Saku Koivu
. He remembers watching Selanne while he growing up.
"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."
If this is his final go-around, Selanne has a chance to catch Dale Hawerchuk for 18th on the all-time scoring list. By scoring on Sunday, Selanne reached 1,405 points, four behind Hawerchuk with three games remaining.
He tipped in a cross-ice pass by Niklas Hagman
through Ryan Whitney
's feet to complete a nice cycle play by Anaheim that drew the Ducks to 2-1 at 14:12 of the first period.
"It's a joke," said Whitney, a former Anaheim teammate of Selanne. "He can definitely play another three years. He's so fast and quick and in such good shape. He's one of those guys that's blessed with everything."
At the other end of the spectrum is Hartikainen, who scored his first goals of the season – and fourth and fifth of his career – in roughly the first six minutes.
collected an errant pass from Sheldon Brookbank
to Luca Sbisa
and fed Hartikainen in the high slot for a shot past Jonas Hiller
just 15 seconds into the game. Hartikainen then tipped home Whitney's shot from the left side at 6:04 to give the Oilers two goals on their first three shots.
Edmonton won despite being outshot by a wide margin for the second straight game. The Oilers were outshot 33-15 and put only five shots on goal in the third period.
Dubnyk helped the Oilers kill five Anaheim power plays. He didn't have much chance on Anaheim's lone goal and didn't mind being beaten by Selanne in a victory.
"To give up one, I'm glad it was him [Selanne]," Dubnyk said. "I don't think he has any reason to go anywhere unless he wants to. He's certainly one of the most dangerous guys in the League that I've seen."
Edmonton is without its No.1 defense pairing of Ladislav Smid
(neck) and Jeff Petry
(face), who were both injured Friday against Los Angeles. The Oilers inserted Cam Barker
and recent call-up Colton Teubert. Forward Ales Hemsky
played only one shift in the third period because of a shoulder injury. it's not believed to be as serious as his previous shoulder issues, according to coach Tom Renney.
Ducks defenseman Mat Clark made his NHL debut and was paired with Lubomir Visnovsky
at first and then Francois Beauchemin
Anaheim also played fan favorite George Parros
for only the second time in 10 games.