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Ducks chase Schneider in 7-3 win

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER – Teemu Selanne continues to defy time for Anaheim.

Selanne kicked off his 21st NHL season with two goals and two assists as the Ducks spoiled the Vancouver Canucks' home opener with a 7-3 victory Saturday night.

Imagine how good the 42-year-old will be once he gets his legs under him.

"Physically, health wise, I feel great," Selanne said, "but I know I need at least four or five games to get my legs back. To be honest, I can't wait until I start feeling good because it is going to be way more fun than this."

It sure seemed like a fun night all around for the NHL's elder statesmen as Selanne moved into a tie for the League scoring lead after one game, joining fellow graybeard Jaromir Jagr, who had four points in his debut with Dallas.

"So him and Jagr are leading the league in scoring?" Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau asked. "What the (heck) is this world coming to? But that's Teemu. He defies age."

At 42 years and 200 days, Selanne also became the oldest NHL player with four points in a game since Gordie Howe (42 years, 326 days) tallied four in 1971.

"Way to go old boys," Selanne said with a big laugh. "Most of the nights it's a young guy's game."

It certainly wasn't for new Canucks No.1 goaltender Cory Schneider, who was pulled from his first season-opening start after giving up goals on three straight shots early in the second period, finishing with five goals on just 14 shots.

"It was unacceptable to play that way and put my team in that situation and not even give them a chance to win," Schneider said. "I felt a half-second off and at this level, that's all it takes. Sometimes you need to make that one big save that will get you on your rhythm and send you on your way, and tonight I couldn't make that big save and you start pressing a little harder and trying to make that save and sometimes it's a little counter-productive."

While Schneider struggled in his first game as Vancouver's starter, several Ducks newcomers made great impressions in their first game.

Free-agent additions Daniel Winnik and Sheldon Souray scored in the first period, and Winnik added his second 3:33 into the second to start the three-goal outburst that ended Schneider's night. Corey Perry added a power-play goal three minutes later, and Kyle Palmieri made it 5-2 just 11 seconds after that.

Jonas Hiller made 26 saves as the Ducks picked up where they left off last season, when they finished 13th in the Western Conference despite a late flourish as one of the NHL's top teams during the second half.

"We had really good balance," Boudreau said. "At the beginning, I think that's what you need to win because you could see both teams were tired in spurts there so it was great to see the balance, great to see the newcomers do well and get that first one out of the way for them."

After an introduction that included thanks from Canucks general manager Mike Gillis and captain Henrik Sedin, as well as the national anthems sung by Sarah McLachlan, it was the Ducks that opened the scoring. Playing without defenseman Cam Fowler, who was a late scratch with the flu, Winnik's deflection of a soft Saku Koivu wrist shot from the top of the circle caught Schneider moving in the wrong direction just 6:31 in.

Vancouver took the lead on a one-timer from Dan Hamhuis midway through the period and a power-play goal for Daniel Sedin 90 seconds later. But Souray, who didn't get regular power-play time in Dallas last season, was left alone between the top of the circles on an offensive zone faceoff won by Selanne and wired a hard slap shot under Schneider's blocker.

"Scare goalies," captain Ryan Getzlaf said when asked what Souray's big shot brings to a power play that converted all three chances. "He scares me still with that big shot. It's always a threat and that's going to allow us to get pucks to the net and open other guys up as the season moves on."

Winnik, who scored only eight goals while splitting last season between Colorado and San Jose, added his second early in the second period, going hard to the net to finish off a nice three-way passing play from Koivu and Andrew Cogliano with a redirection up and over Schneider in tight.

Perry was left all alone after another offensive zone faceoff just four seconds into a power play and shoveled a bouncing puck through Schneider's legs, and Ryan Getzlaf fed Palmieri alone in the slot for a quick, high shot past Schneider 11 seconds later – the two fastest Ducks goals since 2005.

That ended Schneider's night after goals on three straight shots – and three on just four shots in the period – and started another goaltending controversy in Vancouver. After taking the starting job from Luongo in the playoffs last spring, Schneider watched as Luongo took over in the opener.

"The kid's got a tremendous amount of talent, I'm not worried about him at all," Luongo said. "He's strong mentally, so he's going to have no problem bouncing back whatsoever and he'll be ready whenever the next game is."

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault wouldn't say who would start against Edmonton on Sunday night, and neither goalie knew.

Beside, it's not like Luongo fared much better behind a defense that came in advertised as one of the League's best, but hardly played like it.

Selanne beat him on a sharp-angled shot on the power play with 13.3 seconds left in the second period. Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler made it 6-3 with Selanne in the penalty box midway through the third period, but the Finnish veteran made up for that by beating Luongo cleanly on the blocker side from between the hash marks just 22 seconds later.

Selanne, who was playing his 1,342nd career game, moved past Dale Hawerchuk and into 18th spot in all-time scoring with 1,410 points

"That's a big honor," said Selanne, who started his career in Winnipeg. "Obviously, Hawerchuk was one guy I was following very closely and he had a lot of roots in Winnipeg when I came, so that's a big, big honor."

Luongo, who was widely expected to be traded before the season, finished with 10 saves, setting up an interesting goaltending decision Sunday.

"I felt I should have had both of those goals," Luongo said. "But in general I felt pretty good, made some good saves, was seeing the puck well.

"If only Teemu could retire now, I'd be all set."

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