Wednesday, 01.11.2012 / 8:52 AM PT
|Now let's find the three pucks from 2002.
- Ebby Calvin "Nuke" Laloosh (1988)
It goes without saying, everything is better when you win. Food tastes better, the drinks go down more smoothly, sleep is sounder. And in the Ducks locker room last night, following a resounding third straight victory, the team's victory song was blasting and the mood was noticeably jovial.
That was especially true for linemates, good friends and follow Finns Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu in talking about the Koivu hat trick that led the Ducks to an emphatic 5-2 victory over the visiting Stars." In my career, it hasn’t happened too often to get three in one game and get a hat trick," Koivu said. "So, I’ll take that. There's only two of those so you can't forget them."
Indeed, Koivu's only other three-goal night came when he was with Montreal in a game against Pittsburgh on November 18, 2002. Last night the third one came on an empty-netter, after Selanne picked up the puck at center ice with only defenseman Alex Goligoski between him and the abandoned cage. Instead of trying to score it himself, Selanne unselfishly dropped it to Koivu, who poured it in from just behind the blue line. Selanne, by the way, was playing in his 1,300th game and assisted on two of Koivu's second goal as well.
"There's no way I would take a shot myself," Selanne said with a smile. "I knew Saku was going to have a chance to score a hat trick. I'm so happy for him. You don’t see that very often. Usually, he’s the passer."And what did Koivu say to Selanne after that? "I said, 'Thank you. You have enough of those, so you've got to give me one."
Indeed, Selanne still holds the lead in the career hat tricks race, 22-2. Noting the near decade between the 37-year-old Koivu's first and second, Selanne joked, "He's probably not going to get the third one."
Koivu's hatty, which came two nights after Corey Perry had one against Columbus, marked the first time in Ducks history the team had hat tricks in consecutive games. (We need to come up with a term for three straight hat tricks. Maybe the Golden Fedora?)
It also overshadowed a momentous night for one Jeff Deslauriers, who had 26 saves in his first appearance since April 11, 2010, when he was with the Oilers. How's this for ironic? That game was also at Honda Center, a 7-2 loss to the Ducks in which Deslauriers had 38 saves. It was also the last game ever for Scott Niedermayer.
Deslauriers had a strong first period last night, but the Stars tied it on two quick goals by Steve Ott and Goligoski to start the second period. But that was all Deslauriers and the Ducks would allow, as Koivu gave Anaheim the lead back with a pretty move to the backhand on a nice drop pass by Selanne, after he flew so quickly down the left wing I think you can still see the burn marks on the ice. Five minutes later, Matt Beleskey gave the Ducks the all-important insurance goal, banging in a rebound out of the air for his long-awaited first goal of the year.
And In a season in which very little has gone as planned for the Ducks, they've won three straight for the first time since October 8-17, the last two behind goalies who weren't even on the roster a week ago. Sunday evening it was 26-year-old rookie Iiro Tarkki coming in for the injured Jonas Hiller and earning the win against the Jackets. Last night it was Deslauriers doing it in his first NHL regular season game in 21 months.
"Obviously it's been a year and a half since I've played an NHL game so it's been a long time," Deslauriers said. "So I was very happy to be back in. Everybody here makes me feel like part of the family. We won because the guys played hard in front."
And they showed the heart to win the type of game they may have lost earlier this season, not folding after giving up their lead in such quick fashion, but instead fighting back. "It was a character win," Selanne said. "We were up 2-0 and they came back, but today we felt like we were a good team. Nothing really bothered us. We knew that we were going to bounce back and find a way to win the game. That is what we’ve been waiting a long time for."
"That's where you can see the biggest difference at this moment," Koivu said of the Ducks' ability to regain the lead Tuesday after Dallas had pulled even, 2-2, on goals by Steve Ott and Alex Goligoski at 1:39 and 2:43 of the third period.
"A month, six weeks ago, them scoring those two quick goals in the third period, I think we would have been done," Koivu said. "But now we were able to bounce back and got the third goal and then the fourth one, and those are huge goals and really brought the momentum back to our team."
The Ducks have been able to do it at home, now we'll see if they can do it in Canada, where they face Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver in the next four days. They practice today before heading out on that trip, when we'll have a better idea if Hiller is ready to return (Bruce Boudreau proclaimed both Hiller and Parros day-to-day this morning). For now though, the delight in creating a semblance of a winning atmoshphere still lingers.
"I don't see any reason why we can't stay hot and make a run," Selanne said. "Anything is possible."
Two straight wins behind goalies who were in Syracuse this time last week? Two straight hat tricks, including the first from Koivu in more than nine years? Anything is possible indeed.