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Selanne Finally Given His Due

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Teemu Selanne scored his 300th NHL goal at 15:50 of the first period Saturday night, then waited and waited and waited some more to hear his name over the public-address system.

The official scorer at San Jose Arena initially missed seeing Selanne’s deflection on defenseman Jason Marshall’s slap shot from the right point.

It wasn’t until the start of the third period of the Mighty Ducks’ 4-1 victory against the San Jose Sharks that the oversight was corrected.

Selanne’s 300th goal came in his 464th game, making him the sixth-fastest in NHL history to reach the milestone. Wayne Gretzky (surprise!) was the fastest, needing only 350 games to score 300 goals.

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To say the least, the Ducks’ celebration was muted by the delay. Selanne believed he had scored, raising his stick in triumph. In the end, it hardly seemed to matter.

By game’s end, it was clear this was Selanne’s game.

So what else is new?

Selanne also assisted on goals by Travis Green, Paul Kariya and Kevin Haller and extended his point streak to a league-leading 13 games. Selanne has 12 goals and 13 assists during the streak.

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Is it any wonder the Ducks have won four in a row?

Thanks in large part to Selanne, the Ducks ended February with a 10-3 record, moving swiftly from a questionable playoff qualifier to solid status as the Western Conference’s fifth-place team.

Saturday’s victory, the Ducks’ second in as many nights against San Jose, moved them five points ahead of the sixth-place St. Louis Blues and within seven of the fourth-place Phoenix Coyotes.

“What’s good with this team is the chemistry is so good and we want to stick together,” Selanne said after recording a goal and two assists in Friday’s 3-1 victory over the Sharks at Anaheim.

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“On the road trip [last week to Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton] we had a lot of time to spend together. It’s so important that the chemistry is good on the team.”

Nowhere is the Ducks’ chemistry more evident than on their special teams. Saturday, the Ducks led, 2-1, after two periods thanks to their league-best power play and another solid effort from their penalty-killing unit.

Green scored his 12th goal of the season, a power-play goal at 14:44 of the second period. Defenseman Fredrik Olausson sent a slap shot from the right point through traffic, off Green’s stick and into the net.

The puck clearly appeared to change directions, but Olausson originally was credited with the goal.

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Selanne, leveled by a dubious hit from San Jose’s Ron Stern minutes earlier, set up the goal by slipping a cross-ice pass to Olausson.

Earlier in the period, the Ducks successfully killed a two-man disadvantage that lasted 32 seconds. San Jose had a couple of chances from close range, but couldn’t get a goal past Guy Hebert.

It was just the sort of confidence-builder the Ducks needed at that point, particularly considering they couldn’t score the go-ahead goal against the defensive-minded Sharks.

But San Jose’s Joe Murphy tripped Duck defenseman Pascal Trepanier, Selanne fed Olausson, Green redirected the shot for the go-ahead goal and the momentum was firmly on the Ducks’ side.

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It certainly took the Ducks long enough to grab a lead. Then again, a 1-1 tie after one period seemed fitting.

The Ducks forgot to cover Patrick Marleau in the slot, giving up a power-play goal to the Sharks at 5:22.

San Jose goalie Steve Shields forgot his stick at the 15:50 mark, giving up an even-strength goal to Selanne.

It wasn’t entirely Shields’ fault. A tangle of players crashed into him a moment before the goal was scored, knocking his stick from his grasp.

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A tough hit by Duck center Matt Cullen on Alex Korolyuk in the right corner forced a turnover that sent the puck to Marshall at the right point.

Marshall originally was credited with the goal, which would have been his first in 64 games, dating to March 28, 1998 against the Colorado Avalanche.

Of course, Marshall didn’t put the puck in the net that time either.

Colorado defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh did it for him, whistling an errant pass into the net after goalie Patrick Roy had gone to the bench in favor of a sixth skater on a delayed penalty.

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This time, the puck deflected off Selanne’s stick before entering the net.


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