The Mighty Ducks' Anatoli Semenov returned from an injury that had kept him off the ice nearly two months Wednesday, but the Winnipeg Jets' Teemu Selanne suffered one that could threaten the rest of his season.
Selanne suffered a tear in his right Achilles tendon when the blade of Duck defenseman Don McSween's skate cut him above the boot during the second period of the Ducks' 3-1 victory in front of 17,174 at Anaheim Arena.
Winnipeg Coach John Paddock said he expects Selanne--who tied Buffalo's Alexander Mogilny for the NHL lead with 76 goals as a rookie last season and has 25 this season--to undergo surgery in the next few days. The early projection is that he could be out six to eight weeks, but if the tendon is completely severed, his season could be over.
"The worst part about tonight was seeing Teemu Selanne getting injured," Duck Coach Ron Wilson said. "It's terrible for the NHL to see such an exciting player go down like that . . . I hope he has a complete recovery, but basically what I understand is he's done for the season."
It is an injury that the Jets, who are in last place in the Central Division and recently fired General Manager Mike Smith, cannot afford.
The Ducks can identify with that. The injury they couldn't afford happened when Semenov--then their leading scorer--dislocated his left elbow Dec. 7 when he was accidentally caught in a check by his own teammate, Stu Grimson.
Remarkably, seven weeks later, the Ducks had managed a 9-10-2 record without him, and he returned to the ice with the first-year team still in the chase for a playoff spot.
He picked up where he left off, scoring a goal on his first shift, less than two minutes into the game.
The Ducks' success this season picked up when Semenov found his stride a few weeks into the season, centering a line with Garry Valk and Peter Douris on the wings. Wilson immediately reunited that line Wednesday, and Valk brought the puck around from behind the net and found Semenov open in front at 1:51 of the period for his 10th goal of the season, and first since Dec. 1, also against Winnipeg.
"(Semenov) was outstanding tonight," Wilson said. "He was a little tentative, which is what you'd expect. But he scored 30 seconds into his first shift."
The sellout crowd witnessed another franchise first--the Jets became the first team to be swept by the Ducks in a season series, losing all four.
The Jets didn't want to go 0-4 against a first-year team that is hounding them and the Kings for the eighth Western Conference playoff spot. That led to some chippy play and two fights between the Ducks' Todd Ewen and Dean Kennedy, but the Ducks completed the sweep.
It was a solid performance at home--one the Ducks had been craving. They started strong by limiting Winnipeg to three shots in the first period.
Paddock, like many another opposing coach this season, was frustrated by the Ducks' defensive style.
"That wasn't a hockey game, that was a football game," Paddock said. "Basically that's the way they play--and are allowed to play."
Semenov's goal put the Ducks on their way to a 3-0 lead, with McSween scoring his first NHL goal on a power-play at 17:58 of the first and center Shaun Van Allen adding his third of the season at 3:11 of the second.
That was the only goal allowed by Guy Hebert, who has started six of the Ducks' last seven games and has lost only once in his last four starts.
"It's always nice to play a lot of games right in a row," Hebert said.
Defenseman Myles O'Connor has returned to Anaheim after a conditioning stint with minor league San Diego after a lengthy personal leave. . . . Friday's game against the Rangers is a sellout, and will mark the ninth consecutive at Anaheim Arena.