In a regular season when so much has gone right for the Ducks, Teemu Selanne closed it perfectly Sunday by tugging a fellow Anaheim legend onto the ice for a final skate and embrace in front of an adoring sellout crowd.
The Ducks (54-20-8) produced their NHL-best 26th comeback victory with a 3-2 overtime triumph over the Colorado Avalanche at Honda Center. Afterward, Selanne, 43, found his friend and former Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who’s expected to join him in retirement at season’s end.
“Teemu’s such a class act and he’s known for a while that this possibly could be my last game,” Giguere said after his 33-save night for the Central Division champions. “It just comes natural for him to do nice things to people. That’s why everybody loves Teemu. I’ll be forever grateful for what he did. I almost felt guilty, because this is his night.”
Selanne played more than 18 minutes in the emotionally charged atmosphere that included video highlights of his career, cheering from the 17,528 in attendance each time he touched the puck and the postgame awarding of all three stars to the certain Hall of Famer who closes his career in the NHL’s top 15 in goals, points, power-play goals and game-winning goals.
“What a great ending, the fans made this unbelievable,” Selanne said. “It was quite an honor, overwhelming. I’m going to remember this night forever.”
Selanne was given a microphone on the ice, and said he wanted Giguere with him because “he means so much to me and this franchise. We won the Stanley Cup together.”
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said, “I’m glad there was no cameras on me. I was crying. How can you not? That’s as great a scene as you’re going to see in sports. Two well-deserved heroes of hockey hugging each other after battle.”
With captain Ryan Getzlaf resting in anticipation of the Western Conference’s top-seeded Ducks beginning the Stanley Cup playoffs at home Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the wild-card Dallas Stars (40-31-11) , Selanne wore the captain’s “C” on his sweater.
Giguere was in goal for the Ducks’ 2007 Stanley Cup title and was MVP of their Cup finals loss to New Jersey in 2003. Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov could be in net the rest of the way.
Selanne and the Ducks have their own ambitious postseason plans after closing the season on a 9-2-1 run that gave them the best record in club history, the most goals (263), the most home wins (29) and the most road victories (25).