Selanne Leaves Calgary Spinning in Circles
Teemu Selanne, as happens often, was at the center of the action Sunday night.
He breezed in from the blue line, literally turning Calgary defenseman Tommy Albelin in circles. There was little doubt what would follow. Goalie Fred Brathwaite was at Selanne’s mercy.
Selanne whipped in his NHL-high 43rd goal to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead at 18 minutes 7 seconds of the second period. It was the prettiest moment in Ducks’ 5-1 victory at the Pond, and led to some ugliness.
The Flames, unable to contain Selanne, tried to unnerve him.
First, Dave Roche slashed him. Selanne responded with a shove, then really hurt the Flames by assisting on a goal by Paul Kariya.
It didn’t end there. Flame defender Cale Hulse clipped Selanne in the face with his stick. Enough was enough. Selanne charged Hulse and was restrained.
The Ducks’ official response came a few minutes later, when Stu Grimson pummeled Roche to the ice.
“It wasn’t really physical. . . . OK, it was physical,” Selanne said. “But I don’t want it to ruin my day.”
Especially since he had already ruined Calgary’s evening.
Selanne had a goal and two assists, giving him 94 points and moving him into second place in the league. His goal kept him on pace to reach 50. The NHL has had a 50-goal scorer in every full season since 1969-70.
Such things, though, do not concern Selanne.
“I’m not going to think about that,” Selanne said. “I want to think about what happens when we play well. You don’t have to worry about that because when you play well, the goals are going to come. They have to come.”
Usually by Selanne and Kariya. Selanne has 11 points and Kariya 10 in the last four games.
“We’ve been laughing about it because we had so many chances,” Selanne said. “We should have had seven points each.”
They settled for three each Sunday. Kariya scored twice, with Selanne assisting on both. Kariya also had an assist, when he stole the puck at center ice and whipped a pass to Selanne at the blue line.
It left him one-on-one with Albelin.
“I feel sorry for the defender in that situation because Teemu has so much speed,” Kariya said.
The goal broke some tension, giving the Ducks a two-goal lead.
“When Teemu does things like that, it’s fun to watch. . . . when you’re on his side,” Coach Craig Hartsburg said.
Even the Flames’ reaction in the third period was enjoyable for Hartsburg.
“When teams play like that, it gets [Paul and Teemu] riled up,” Hartsburg said.
That was the case after Roche’s slash. Selanne hit Kariya on the fly. Once again, Brathwaite had no chance. It was then that things got really rough.
“That’s part of playing in the NHL,” Kariya said. “It doesn’t happen too often. We have the tools to fight back.”
That would be Grimson, who took the next shift and chased Roche around the ice before finally getting him in the clinches. As soon as Grimson was in the penalty box, the Ducks’ Ted Drury was given a double-minor for high sticking.
It gave Calgary a five-on-three, but the message was clear.
“If they get a power play, that’s fine,” goalie Guy Hebert said. “It’s important people know that they can’t take liberties with Teemu.”