Ducks right winger Teemu Selanne takes a shot on goal against the Detroit… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
This was the moment Teemu Selanne was waiting for — one of the reasons the 42-year-old decided to slog through another regular season, albeit a shortened one.
The career of a future Hall of Famer isn't supposed to end at a nondescript regular-season game in western Canada. Or after a disappointing playoff loss against Nashville.
Selanne and the Ducks were back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and the Finnish legend wasted little time in marking his fine imprint on this first-round series, lifting Anaheim to a 3-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night at Honda Center in Game 1.
BOX SCORE: Ducks 3, Detroit 1
Put Selanne on the power play and magic is bound to unfold.
His power-play goal, a one-timer from the left circle, was the game-winner, coming at 1 minute 29 seconds of the third period. The pass leading to the goal came from Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy and Selanne had plenty of space to put it past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.
Selanne's plan was to get it off as fast as possible, beating Howard on the short side. “It just came into my mind, usually when I have the puck I try to make a play,” Selanne said.
The other assist went to Matt Beleskey. It was Selanne's 42nd playoff goal and his 80th point. He has appeared in 112 playoff games.
He was asked if it was as special as his first playoff goal.
“Absolutely,” Selanne said. “When you have the passion to score goals, it doesn't matter how old you are. Maybe the celebrations go down a little bit. But inside it's the same thing.”
With the Red Wings pressing for the tying goal, and Howard pulled for an extra attacker, the Ducks scored an empty-netter with 22.4 seconds remaining. The long bomb came from defenseman Francois Beauchemin, from deep in his own end.
What led to Selanne's goal was a development late in the second period. Detroit had taken a delay-of-game penalty — defenseman Jakub Kindl shot the puck over the glass — and the penalty carried over into the third.
Following Selanne's goal, the Red Wings countered and the pressure shifted to the shoulders of Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, who was up to the task. Hiller, who made 21 saves, and newcomer Viktor Fasth spent the regular season pushing one another in a burst of healthy competition.
Conventional playoff wisdom usually suggests going with the veteran, at least in Game 1, and Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau followed that pattern, picking Hiller over Fasth.
Hiller said that the coach told him a couple of days ago that he would be starting in Game 1.
The other two games on the opening night of the Stanley Cup playoffs were 2-1 contests. The Detroit-Anaheim game was the only one of the three that didn't go to overtime.
It looked like it could certainly head that way after 40 minutes.
“The fans are into it — feeding off on the guys,” Ducks rookie Emerson Etem said in his TV interview between the second and third period. “We played a solid 40 so far. We need to make sure we finish with a solid 60.”
Not much separated the Red Wings and the Ducks after two periods.
Anaheim's first goal? It came on a first-period power play, off a Nick Bonino deflection off a Cam Fowler shot from the point, shortly after Bonino won a faceoff, cleanly from Pavel Datsyuk.
Detroit's goal to tie the score?
The Red Wings scored on a first-period power play as Kindl's shot from the edge of the left circle went off the leg of teammate Danny Cleary past Hiller. That would be the only success the Red Wings had against Hiller.