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Late-game hero Selanne refuses to act his age

by John Kreiser
At age 40, Teemu Selanne appears to be saving his best for last.

With the Anaheim Ducks desperate for points, Selanne has had a big hand in four victories since Feb. 11 by scoring the tying goal in the final three minutes of regulation. He's the first player in NHL history to get that many tying goals that late in games in one season, let alone in six weeks.

Selanne has been performing his heroics when they're needed most -- two of the four goals came against Calgary and the other two against Dallas, two teams the Ducks are battling for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. Two of the four came in a four-day span -- he tied Sunday's game against Calgary by scoring a power-play goal with 2:01 left in regulation in a game the Ducks won 5-4, then banged in the tying goal with 6.4 seconds left at Dallas on Wednesday in a game the Ducks won 4-3 on Cam Fowler's overtime goal.

Selanne scored two more goals Thursday, but the Ducks' latest comeback came up one short when they rallied from a 5-1 third-period deficit against Nashville, but lost 5-4.

Selanne has hinted that this could be his last season. If it is, it's not because his skills are deteriorating. With 70 points in 65 games, he has an excellent chance of becoming only the third player to average a point a game after turning 40 -- and the first since 1976, when Johnny Bucyk had 83 points in 77 games for the Boston Bruins at age 40. Gordie Howe had the highest-scoring season of his legendary career -- 103 points -- as a 40-year-old in 1968-69.

Selanne is one of 13 players this season who have scored 50 or more points and averaged more than a point a game. Seven of the 13 are 25 and under; after Selanne, the next-oldest is Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis -- a youngster at age 35.

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