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Ageless Selanne the force behind Ducks' playoff push

by Corey Masisak / NHL.com
Teemu Selanne is having one of the best seasons for someone his age in NHL history, but what he's been able to accomplish recently late in games would rival the accomplishments of any player regardless of the date on his birth certificate.

Selanne scored the game-tying goal for his Anaheim Ducks with 6.4 seconds left in a 4-3 overtime victory Wednesday night against the Dallas Stars. It was the fourth time Selanne has tied a game in the final 2:07 for the Ducks since Feb. 11 -- and Anaheim has gone on to win each of the contests in overtime.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Selanne is the first player in NHL history to score four game-tying goals in the final three minutes of a game in one season. Incredibly, Selanne achieved the feat four times in 40 days.

"I've always said it's better to be lucky than good," Selanne said. "Good things happen when you believe. The team confidence is the key right now. It's doesn't matter if you're up two goals or down two goals. You've got to believe you're going to come back. That's what has happened lately. It's a good feeling."

The first late game-tying goal from Selanne came Feb. 11 against Calgary, as did the third on March 20. The other two (March 4 and Wednesday night) have come against the Dallas Stars. Anaheim currently has a one-point lead on Dallas and a two-point advantage on Calgary for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Selanne's late-game heroics are the difference. Without those four goals (and provided no one else scored for the Ducks in the dying moments of those four contests) the Ducks would have 79 points, nine back of Dallas and eight shy of Calgary because both of those clubs would have the two extra points they lost.

"This group doesn't think that we're ever out of a hockey game," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told reporters after the game. "They've shown a tremendous amount of resilience to rally around one another."

While Corey Perry is tied for second in the NHL in goals (40) and third in game-winning goals (9), Selanne has a bunch of important tallies for the Ducks this season. Sixteen of his 23 goals this season have either tied the game or put Anaheim in front. Perry joins Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan on maybe the best line in the sport, but Selanne's big season has helped give the Ducks scoring depth they have lacked at times since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007.

That Selanne is doing all of this at 40 years old makes it even more remarkable. He has 23 goals and 68 points this season, which makes him one of five players in NHL history to reach 20 goals and 60 points after his 40th birthday. The others are Gordie Howe (twice), Mark Messier, Johnny Bucyk and Mark Recchi, who had 23 goals and 61 points in 2008-09. Selanne is three points shy of tying Howe's 1969-70 campaign for the third-most points by someone in their 40s in League history.

Anaheim has won four games in a row to move into eighth place in the West. The Ducks have another critical showdown Thursday night when they travel to Nashville to face the seventh-place Predators.

LATE SCORE-TYING GOALS

DATE PLAYER TEAM PRIOR SCORE (V-H) FINAL SCORE TIME
02/11/2011 Selanne, Teemu ANA 3-4 ANA 5 at CGY 4 17:53
03/04/2011 Selanne, Teemu ANA 3-2 DAL 3 at ANA 4 18:57
03/20/2011 Selanne, Teemu ANA 4-3 CGY 4 at ANA 5 17:59
03/23/2011 Selanne, Teemu ANA 2-3 ANA 4 at DAL 3 19:53

                         
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