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Selanne's return overshadows Ducks' visit

by Sergei J. Feldman /

DUCKS (9-17-5) at JETS (14-13-4)


LAST 10: Anaheim 3-6-1; Winnipeg 6-4-0

Season Series: This is the first and only meeting between the two clubs, who haven't seen each other in 14 months. They met once last season when the Jets, then the Atlanta Thrashers , won 5-4 in a shootout at Anaheim on Oct. 15.

Big Story: Winnipeg fans circled this date as soon as the NHL schedule was released -- it's the return to Winnipeg of Teemu Selanne, who broke into the NHL in 1992-93 with the Jets by setting NHL rookie records for goals and points.

Team Scope:

Ducks: Selanne warmed up for his first visit to Winnipeg since 1996 by scoring the Ducks' lone goal in Friday's 4-1 loss at Chicago. But the return to the place where he spent the first 3 1/2 seasons of his NHL career is overshadowing everything else related to the game.

"Every place I've visited, I've had a special relationship with fans, and Winnipeg was really special," Selanne said. "There's a reason the plates on the cars have 'Friendly Manitoba.' It's a really friendly city. I had a great (3 1/2) years there. I didn't have a chance to say goodbye there. That's why I'm really looking forward to going back."

Jets: The cozy MTS Centre has given the Jets one of the NHL's best home-ice advantages, but it didn't help on Thursday when the Jets and Washington Capitals played nearly 59 minutes of scoreless hockey before Alex Ovechkin scored with 1:14 left in regulation for a 1-0 win.

"We played the way Washington wanted to play," an unhappy coach Claude Noel said. "That's the sad part. They lulled us into this game that we thought we could be cute."

Noel's task on Saturday will be to keep his players focused on the game, rather than all the hoopla surrounding Selanne.

Who's Hot: Selanne has led the way for the Ducks, with points in seven straight games. … The Jets' Bryan Little had a seven-game point streak snapped in the to the Caps. He had nine points in that span.

Injury Report: Jason Blake (wrist) is out until late December, while Saku Koivu (groin) is day-to-day for the Ducks and will not play Saturday. .. The Jets' Alexander Burmistrov (undisclosed), Eric Fehr (shoulder), Randy Cones (upper body) and Nik Antropov (foot) all are day-to-day.

Stat Pack: Despite having some of the most talented forwards in the NHL, the Ducks have scored just 72 goals -- only Los Angeles and the New York Islanders have fewer. One reason is that they are 6-for-45 on the power play away from Honda Center. … The Ducks are 2-4-1 since firing coach Randy Carlyle and replacing him with Bruce Boudreau.

Puck Drop: Few visiting players will get the kind of reception Selanne will receive in Winnipeg. The crowd of 15,004 will include his mother, wife , four sons and several friends from Finland; the Jets also plan a video tribute to him.

"It was a dream come true to start the career in Canada and obviously all the memories that I have there, it's just so awesome," Selanne said. When asked if the fans might be tough on him because he's coming in as a visiting player, he added: "Hopefully they are not going to boo for me."

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