When talking about the Anaheim Ducks
, the first names that generally come to mind are Ryan Getzlaf
, Corey Perry
and Bobby Ryan
-- the team's youthful top line. But with the game on the line Saturday night, it was two of the Ducks' gray-bills that turned the game.
Teemu Selanne scored twice late in the third period -- including the Scott Niedermayer-assisted tying goal with 16.0 seconds left in regulation -- and got the only goal in the shootout to give the Ducks a 3-2 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers
at the Wachovia Center
made 33 saves through 65 minutes, then stopped Danny Briere
, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne in the shootout.
Mike Richards and Chris Pronger
scored power-play goals for the Flyers.
Leading 2-0 after two periods, Philadelphia
seemed to be in control, but Selanne, the 39-year-old Finnish sniper, got the Ducks on the board when he slipped behind the defense, took a pass from Ryan Whitney and beat Ray Emery to the short side, past his glove, with 6:44 left in regulation.
With the time ticking down and the goaltender pulled, the elder Ducks put on a clinic in winning hockey.
When Darroll Powe couldn't clear a puck, it ended up on Niedermayer's stick in the right corner. The 36-year-old Ducks' captain feathered a beautiful backhand pass through the crowded goalmouth and onto the stick of Selanne, who was unmarked on the left post and banged in one of the easiest of his 583 career goals to tie the game.
"That was an unbelievable pass," Selanne said. "Scottie got the puck and I can't believe how open I was. I just tried to sneak behind there. A guy like Scott, if you get open, you know the puck is going to come."
"That's a big-league play by a big-league player," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said of Niedermayer's pass. "Those are the types of plays that get you points in this situation."
Carlyle was sure Niedermayer saw Selanne on the play.
Well, not really.
"I didn't see him," Niedermayer confessed. "I just tried to get it over there and hope someone's there.
"I think the biggest thing on that play was Saku (Koivu) gave me a hard yell that I had time. Down in the corner with my head down, I didn't really know if I had any time or not, so Saku yelled hard telling me I had time, so I was able to hold onto it a little bit longer so I was able to get control of it a little bit. You know at that point of the game you're going to have guys at the net. I've played with Teemu for a while, he's a righty and loves hanging out on that side."It was a pretty rare play by a pretty rare player.
"I think there are lots of players that can make (that pass), but I don't think there's a lot of players that can make it in the situation they were presented with," Carlyle said. "It's pretty hairy when the goalie's out, all the desperation, everybody's sticks are in lanes, everyone's trying their darnedest to get the puck out, we're trying to recover it. That's the situation where special players find people."
Selanne was equally as special. And according to his coach, he needed to come through.
"I was talking to him earlier, he was turning the puck over in the first and second periods, so he better do something in the third," Carlyle said with a laugh.
"He's joking. He's a comedian, that guy," said Selanne, who was not credited with a giveaway in the game.
Selanne's play this season has been no joking matter -- especially to Anaheim's opponents. He has 4 goals in four games, and shows no signs of slowing down.
"He's an opportunistic guy," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "When you see a player like that, his composure really comes to mind. I thought some of their guys were getting frustrated earlier in the game, some of the younger players, and he never does. He always seems like he's in control and it's hard to tell the difference between when he's winning and when he's losing because he always looks upbeat and he's an opportunistic guy. It almost looked like he had a twinkle in his eye there at the end like he was going to make something happen."Carlyle certainly has seen that look before.
"He's a guy that's delivered in crucial situations," he said. "He's done that for this hockey club before. You can see by the way he approaches the game he's having fun out there."
"Teemu had a huge night for us, scoring those goals, getting the one in the shootout, he did it all for us," said Niedermayer. "At that age, with that much speed and that knack for scoring goals, that doesn't leave him. It's fun to watch."
It wasn't nearly as much fun for Pronger, who was 16 seconds away from celebrating his 35th birthday by scoring the winning goal against his former team. With the Flyers up 1-0 after Richards' first-period goal, Pronger fired a rocket from the point that hit off Ducks defenseman James Wisniewski and got past Hiller at 13:58 of the second for his first goal of the season.
"I don't know if it's satisfying," said Pronger, who was a member of the Ducks' 2007 championship team but was dealt to Philadelphia at the Entry Draft in June. "It's good to get the goose-egg off the board. We got a point, but we deserved probably two."
Selanne and Niedermayer, with whom Pronger shared the 2007 Stanley Cup with, took care of that.
-- Adam Kimelman, NHL.com
Contact Adam at email@example.com