Teemu Selanne dominated the home rink he has known for 11 seasons, scoring both of his club's goals in a 2-1 victory for the Anaheim Ducks over their rivals, the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night at the aforementioned Honda Center. The victory clinched a playoff spot for Anaheim, while the loss put the Kings' chances at home ice in doubt. For the first time in the three California teams' history, all three of them - Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose - will make the post-season.
In the first, it was Ryan Smyth who broke the scoreless tie for the Kings. His goal came on a turn-over by Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman, who lost the puck to Jarret Stoll. Stoll threw a pass in front to Dustin Brown, who shot it, and goaltender Dan Ellis (playing for the injured Ray Emery and the not 100% Jonas Hiller) lost control of the rebound, when Smyth deposited it in at 11:22. It was Smyth's 22nd of the season, though only his third goal in 31 games.
Teemu Selanne got his first of the game with his 30th goal - and his 10th 30-goal season - to tie the game at 9:55 of the second period. It came on the rebound of a Luca Sbisa shot. Selanne picked a corner the way he has for so many years and tied the game. He has been the best player on the ice for Anaheim by a large margin. Selanne is now in sole possession of 27th place on the NHL's all-time scoring list with 1,339 points.
The Ducks largely controlled this game despite trailing for nearly half of it. They out-shot the Kings 28-24 and controlled much of the momentum throughout. The Kings mostly sturdy defense and he goaltending of Jonathan Quick were the only things keeping them in it. Except for a few short bursts and the Smyth goal, the Los Angeles offense lay dormant, as it has for much of the absence of the team's best player, Anze Kopitar. That said, when called upon, Anaheim goaltender Dan Ellis was solid, being called upon for his first start since March 20th due to Ray Emery's injury and Jonas Hiller not being 100%. Quick made 26 saves, Ellis made 24.
The Kings got two key power play chances in the third period but failed to score. Selanne took a somewhat controversial penalty for boarding at 3:18, but Dan Ellis made a couple of good saves to keep the Kings at bay. Toni Lydman went off for interference at 6:11, but again, the Ducks penalty kill was solid. The Kings are now six games without a power play goal. Los Angeles went 0-for-3 on the man advantage for the night, while the Ducks went 0-for-2. Kevin Westgarth and George Parros (two Princeton University graduates) had the game's only fight at 4:27 of the second period. This was a pretty physical game, though, as each team was throwing hits with reckless abandon.
Selanne gave the Ducks their first lead of the game at 5:54 of the third. Saku Koivu was headed across the middle of the ice, ending up on the left wing. He was hassled by a King, enough to take him down, but on his way he threw a ridiculous, Hail Mary of a cross-ice pass to Selanne, and the 40-year old made no mistake in burying it by Quick to make it 2-1 Ducks. Selanne now has seasons of 27, 27 and - so far - 31 goals in seasons at age 38, 39 and 40. In what may be his final regular season performance in Orange County, the Finnish Flash didn't disappoint. Was there any doubt that he would?