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Selanne moves into tie for most Olympic points

by Shawn P. Roarke
VANCOUVER -- The last thing Team Finland forward Teemu Selanne is concerned with at this point in his international hockey career is individual accolades. He has his eye on only one goal -- the gold medal that has eluded him and his fellow Finns.

So, it was easy to believe Selanne on Wednesday afternoon when he insisted he had no idea he was now the proud co-owner of the Olympic record for most career points. Selanne earned a secondary assist on Olli Jokinen's game-opening goal earlier Wednesday afternoon in an eventual 5-1 victory against Belarus in Group C play at Canada Hockey Place.

That point, No. 36 in his fifth Olympic Games appearance, ties him with Czechoslovakia's Vlastimil Bubnik, Russia's Valeri Kharlamov and Canada's Harry Watson at the top of the Olympic scoring chart.

"The media told me," Selanne said. "The media."

Now, though, everyone knows that Selanne is one of the four most proficient scorers in the history of the Games. And, his teammates couldn't be happier.

"He's been a big part of Finnish success in the Olympics," Finnish forward Niklas Hagman said. "He's always been a big key part. Even now when he is a little older -- his legs, the way he sees the ice, the way he can still shoot -- it is all tremendous. It's a great honor for him."

"Hopefully, he is going to get a few more points in this tournament. But, obviously it couldn't happen to a better guy."

In the NHL, Saku Koivu plays with Selanne in Anaheim, often on the same line. Four years ago, in Torino, Koivu and Selanne were on the same line for Finland and basically carried the Finns offensively as they claimed silver, just one win short of the gold medal that remains Selanne's mission statement. Both players finished in the Top 5 in scoring and each was named to the all-tournament team.

So, Koivu, more than probably anybody, knows what this record means to his close friend.

"We used to grow up watching the big Russian lines and for us they seemed overwhelmingly powerful and just so great," Koivu told "If Teemu is outscoring those guys than that is a pretty incredible statement."

Fittingly, Koivu got the primary assist on the play that gave Selanne a piece of the record books. On the play, Koivu won an offensive-zone faceoff, drawing the puck to Selanne, who gave it back to Koivu along the goal line to the right of Belarusian goalie Vitali Koval. Koivu then slid a perfect cross-crease pass to Jokinen to slam home a one-timer to get Finland on the board.

With the assist, Koivu moved two assists closer to tying the Olympic record of 22, held by Kharlamov.

With a record of his own in sight, he feels confident in asserting that Selanne won't get caught thinking about claiming the record as his own when Finland plays its next game, Friday against Germany

"I think at this point, for him, it's a big milestone," Koivu told "But when you are playing in your last Olympic Games, you are not so much looking at your personal stats; you want to have success as a team."

Selanne echoed that sentiment just minutes after his team put itself in a good position to play in Saturday's Group C game against rival Sweden, a game that will likely determine which of those teams gets the bye into next Monday's quarterfinals.

"Obviously our team, we know we can't take anybody lightly," Selanne said. "We want to play every game better and better and try to build to the big games. We know Germany is a good hockey team and we have to play better and better every game."

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