LOS ANGELES — He remembers his first career postseason goal like yesterday. He remembers his first goal well.
However, that first goal was soon topped not once but twice.
The first time he scored in a postseason game, Teemu Selanne scored a hat trick for the Winnipeg Jets.
"White noise in Winnipeg," he said, laughing.
One of the most prolific scorers in NHL history and one of the greatest guys to play the game is playing his final postseason with the same enthusiasm and intensity that he played his first with, 21 years ago. While he might not be in hat-trick form, from a statistics standpoint, it doesn’t look like he’s aged a bit.
Through the Ducks’ first eight games, Selanne has six points. The Finnish Flash has four points in the last five alone and he scored his second goal of the playoffs Thursday night in the Ducks’ 3-2 win over the Kings in Game 3 when he finished off what he called a "brain surgeon pass" from Nick Bonino on the power play.
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"From the last game in Dallas to now, he seems to have found the fountain of youth," said Ducks’ head coach Bruce Boudreau. "Whatever it is, I want him to keep it up."
The ageless 43-year-old is enjoying every last second of his postseason swan song.
"Like I always say, playoffs is the best time for the hockey player," he said. "I try to enjoy my part and obviously, we know that everybody has to raise the level a little bit. I try to do my job too."
A hero in Orange County after helping to lead the Ducks to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2007, it’s often been said that Selanne’s legacy could have been greater had he played in a bigger hockey market like New York or Toronto. But the way the nation embraced him during his final regular season game shows otherwise. His speedy skills, his vivacious personality with the accent as thick as the day he left and, of course, his class has hockey fans in and out of Anaheim begging him to stay for just a few more seasons.
"I could play three (more) years if I want," Selanne said. "But I don’t know that I want to. So far, I don’t want to…I try not to think about futures too much, this is the time now. You’ve got to live the moment."
His brilliant Olympic performance was vintage Teemu. He flew around the ice with the C stitched on his chest and a line mate that had not even been born when Selanne played his first NHL game.
Finland won a bronze and their hero and captain was not only the oldest player ever to medal but was named the tournament MVP. He returned to Anaheim happy, with a tremendous sense of pride, accomplishment and resolute in his decision to retire.
His final regular season was far from his most productive. Even through decreased playing time, he insisted he still had plenty left in the tank in the postseason.
#NHLDucks Boudreau on Selanne: "Since Game 6 against Dallas, he seems like he's found the fountain of youth. I hope that keeps going."
"He’s engaged," Boudreau said. "This is the time of year that a guy like Teemu would want to be the best. It’s like the Olympics, get into that stage, he raised his game. Sometimes, you play 20-plus years, the regular season is just ho-hum sometimes, because your goal is to get into where you are right now. The last four games, since he sat out, he’s been really good."
This postseason performance is only par for the course – which, judging by his viral video last season, is the one thing he has yet to master. He doesn’t want it to end, at least not until the middle of June.
But when it does, he’ll know that he’s going out on top.
"I don’t even want to think about that because the next one might be the last one. That’s one thing I don’t want to think about because I can’t sleep already," he said. "You just want to lay everything out there and leave everything on the ice. That’s the approach I have and I think everybody has it but more with me also because I know this is going to be my last one. So I’ve got to get everything in and enjoy and it’s awesome."