WINNIPEG – Teemu Selanne's mere early-morning arrival created a buzz, but the Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets have a game to play Sunday night at MTS Centre.
The Jets have taken their first two games this season, and a win against the Ducks would give the franchise its first-ever 3-0-0 start. Anaheim took a 4-3 overtime win Saturday night on the road against the Minnesota Wild and will wrap up its three-game season-opening trip against the Jets before returning to the West Coast.
Selanne did not dress against Minnesota as part of an offseason plan designed to ease his workload this season. The Ducks play 14 back-to-back set this season, and Selanne will play one game per set.
Selanne spent parts of four seasons with the original Winnipeg Jets franchise in the 1990s, playing 231 games and scoring 147 of his 675 career NHL goals. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy with 76-goal rookie debut in the 1992-93 season.
While the 43-year-old made his on-ice return to Winnipeg in December 2011, even his subsequent return this weekend has drawn crowds to the Ducks' downtown hotel and massive media attention for what is expected to be his final regular-season game in Winnipeg.
"He deserves it," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said of Selanne. "We want him to play. We'd like him to score a couple of goals and make this a perfect farewell."
The Jets are also aware of Selanne's stature in the city.
"He's a freak of nature," Jets right wing Blake Wheeler said of Selanne. "He has been the model of consistency, and he is someone that I think a lot of young guys look up to, especially guys who play forward."
However, both teams are guarding against the Selanne return distracting them from the game itself.
"He means a lot to the Winnipeg fans," Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec said. "For me, it's going to me another game against a really good team and a really good player [in Selanne]."
Winnipeg plans to take a similar approach to what they executed in their 5-3 home-opener against the Los Angeles Kings, a game in which they built a 4-1 lead against one of the NHL's premier teams.
"They're similar to [Los Angeles]," Wheeler said of the Ducks. "They're a big team, they have a lot of skill, and they play the right way. We need to do a lot of same things, especially against their top guys."
Anaheim avenged a season-opening 6-1 road loss to the Colorado Avalanche with a much-improved effort in Minnesota that paid off against the Wild.
"Certainly we're happy that we got the win," Boudreau said after the Ducks' morning skate. "We didn't think that we were very good, and we hung on by the skin of our teeth. But you never [complain] about a win. They're too hard to come by in this League."
"We competed really hard. We've got to find that really hard compete again in a back-to-back [set] here."
In addition to having a second opponent in as many games visit Winnipeg in the second half of a back-to back set, the Jets activated Grant Clitsome and will add him to their defense corps after he missed the team's first two games with a lower-body injury.
It is expected that Clitsome will pair with Mark Stuart and replace Paul Postma in the Jets' defensive rotation. To make room for Clitsome, the Jets assigned defenseman Adam Pardy to the St. John's IceCaps of the American Hockey League after the morning skate.
However, Jets coach Claude Noel announced that defenseman Tobias Enstrom will be a game-time decision for the Jets.
Here are the expected lineups for the Ducks and Jets on Sunday:
Dustin Penner - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Jakob Silfverberg - Mathieu Perreault – Teemu Selanne
Andrew Cogliano - Saku Koivu - Daniel Winnik
Matt Beleskey - Nick Bonino - Kyle Palmieri
Cam Fowler - Francois Beauchemin
Bryan Allen - Sami Vatanen
Mark Fistric - Ben Lovejoy
Scratches: Peter Holland, Hampus Lindholm, Patrick Marron
Injured: Emerson Etem (lower body), Luca Sbisa (ankle), Sheldon Souray (wrist)
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Devin Setoguchi
Eric Tangradi - Olli Jokinen - Michael Frolik
James Wright - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Zach Bogosian - Jacob Trouba
Mark Stuart - Grant Clitsome
Scratched: Matt Halischuk, Anthony Peluso, Paul Postma