NASHVILLE, Tenn. – "The Finnish Flash" was at it again – agelessly defying his 40 years in a two-goal performance while also flashing his temper, refusing to accept a poor showing by his Anaheim Ducks in a 4-3 loss to the Predators on Sunday.
With Anaheim down 2-0 late in the second period of Game 3 at Bridgestone Arena, Selanne scored twice during a 30-second span – giving him four playoff goals, including three on the power play, to lead all playoff scorers as of the end of the game. The output almost single-handedly brought the Ducks back and tied the game at 2-2 entering the third period.
But the Ducks could not complete the comeback, as Nashville gained a 2-1 series edge and Selanne was visibly angry with his team's performance in the locker room after the game.
"Well, something a little bright thing," he said of the Ducks' brief comeback, "but we have no reason to lose this (expletive) game. No business. They wanted it more, they won the battles. We're lucky even to be in the game. Very disappointed."
As one of the Ducks' alternate captains, Selanne appeared to be asserting some leadership after the game, showing that his team's effort was not enough. With a determined effort of 16 goals in 27 games down the stretch to finish with 31 in 73 regular season games, Selanne, one of the game's most respected players, has the results and the credentials to back up his tough talk. He sprinkled his language with salty words on Sunday.
Anaheim was outshot 37-16.
"That's not the way how we should play," he said. "That's embarrassing … I hope everybody's going to be (teed) off and (expletive) learn something about this."
Selanne had a hard time finding any solace in his personal accomplishments.
"Don't care at all," he said.
While the team's failures overshadowed his personal triumphs, his opponents appreciated his great skill.
"I think Selanne's dangerous any time he's out there," Nashville defenseman Shea Weber said. "You know – is he 40 years old? I don't know what he is – he's still good. He's still one of the best scorers in the League. He knows how to put the puck in the back of the net. We need to make sure we're taking care of their offensive guys and not give them any chances."
To put what Selanne is doing in perspective, Nashville coach Barry Trotz recalled that when he was coaching at the University of Manitoba, he got to watch Selanne in person while Selanne played for the Winnipeg Jets. With 76 goals in 1992-93, Selanne had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time.
"That's a long time ago," Trotz said. "It's amazing. He's got a goal-scorer's instinct and that dynamic speed. He's just a wonderful athlete."
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle – a former Winnipeg Jet himself – referred to how opportunistic Selanne is.
"The puck follows him around," Carlyle said. "When you see other guys struggle, it never ceases to amaze us that when the rebound comes, it seems to come directly to him and onto his stick. When he gets chances, he doesn't need many to score goals. Tonight was another display of Teemu's scoring."
Selanne's fellow countryman, Preds goalie Pekka Rinne, who is 12 years Selanne's junior, also marveled at his elder's skill. On Selanne's second goal, Rinne said the wing fielded a hard rebound off the backboards, tipped the puck to himself and then scored.
"First, he actually tipped the puck in front of me and went wide on my blocker side and I don't know somehow came back on my glove side, so I'm sure he feels a little bit fortunate on that goal," Rinne said. "But that just goes to show that, you know … you just have to be ready for anything. Expect the unexpected, I guess."
For six months, it's a really good accomplishment. But as soon as April [11, the end of the regular season] comes around, no one thinks about the regular season anymore. For six months, it's a real battle to get into the playoffs in the NHL these days. There are a lot of good teams, and it takes consistency over a long time.
— Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on clinching a playoff berth after a win against the Islanders on Saturday