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Selanne Looks Rejuvenated

March 28, 2000|ELLIOTT TEAFORD

This certainly hasn't been right wing Teemu Selanne's finest season. Apart from a few bursts, he has looked sluggish for long stretches. His strength on the puck hasn't been what it once was.

Last season's leading goal-scorer with 47, Selanne has only 30 so far. He's on pace to record his fewest goals since scoring 22 in the lockout-shortened, 48-game schedule in 1994-95.

Two weeks ago, Selanne spoke to reporters at length after practice while a large ice bag was strapped to his lower back. When asked about the injury, Selanne joked, "Injury? What injury?"

However, there were signs in Sunday's 4-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes that the reliable Selanne of seasons past had returned. He was particularly strong in gaining possession of the puck and keeping it from the Coyotes.

Best of all for the Ducks, Selanne had two goals and two assists. He also had a game-high nine shots on goal and logged 28 minutes 50 seconds of ice time. He set up Oleg Tverdovsky's winning goal 3:47 into overtime by holding the puck in at the blue line and fending off a Coyote before yielding possession to Matt Cullen, who passed to Tverdovsky.

"My strength was back," Selanne said. "In Vancouver and Edmonton [losses last week in which Selanne had only one shot in each game], there were no excuses. But when you don't have a lot of jump, it's hard to get scoring chances."

Selanne impressed Coach Craig Hartsburg.

"It's probably the strongest he's been all year in his one-on-one battles," Hartsburg said. "It was great. I don't know if it was his best game, but it was up there. He was on a mission to get us a win."


Hartsburg said he made no Knute Rockne-type speech when the Ducks fell behind, 3-1, after the first period Sunday. "Nothing that would be coach-of-the-year material, that's for sure," he said. "After the first period, we gathered ourselves and fought back. We showed some real character in the second and third periods."

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