ANAHEIM – On a night when Teemu Selanne was honored for 600 career goals, it was a 21-year-old kid scoring the first of his NHL life that stole much of the spotlight away.
Rookie center Nick Bonino tallied the first of his two-game-old career to lead off a three-goal onslaught in the second period, pacing the Ducks to a 3-1 victory over the visiting Dallas Stars.
"It’s incredible," Bonino said of the goal. "I’m happy I did at home and happy we got a win."
The 21-year-old Bonino, just four years old during Selanne's record-breaking 76-goal rookie season, converted on the power play off a pass from none other than Selanne himself 8:11 into the second. Selanne let the puck settle at his feet before tapping it into the slot, where Bonino whistled it under goalie Kari Lehtonen.
"When I get on this ice with Perry, Selanne, Niedermayer and Visnovsky out there, you really can’t do any wrong," Bonino said. "The puck just bounced to me. I was in the right place at the right time."
Selanne immediately fished the instant souvenir out of the net and handed it to Bonino at the Ducks bench. "He said he stills remembers his first goal," Bonino said of Selanne. "I told him I’d probably remember this one as long as I’m playing and as long as I live too."
Said Selanne, "The first NHL goal is always so memorable. I’m very happy he got it. You can already see what kind of skills he has. He is so calm. What amazes me these days about rookies, they are so ready right away."
The Finnish Flash was honored before the game for his 600th career goal (scored March 21) in a ceremony that included his family and his boyhood idol and friend Jari Kurri, the leader among all Finnish players with 601 career goals. Selanne had a number of opportunities to notch number 601 himself, but couldn’t find the net on any of his eight shots.
"It’s been like this for a long time, chance after chance," Selanne said. "I really wanted to score, more so for Jari. He wanted to come here and see it happen. I was honored that he came. I’m so happy. It’s a long way [from Kurri's home in Finland,] but we’re good buddies."
Nobody among the Honda Center crowd left the arena with less than a minute left, with the Ducks leading by two goals and the Dallas net empty, hoping to see Selanne slip in a late one. But time ran out on his desperation attempt with a couple of seconds left, as the horn sounded just as it slid several feet wide of the net.
Bonino, the recently signed Boston University product picked up by the Ducks in a trade with San Jose last season, was centering the top line for the second straight game in place of Ryan Getzlaf, who is nursing a sprained left ankle.
Getzlaf’s normal linemate, Corey Perry, gave the Ducks a two-goal lead with a wicked wrister from the wing. Just 49 seconds later, Kyle Chipchura flipped in a rebound over a frozen Lehtonen at 12:30 to put Anaheim up by three.
Dallas got one back with 5:11 left in the period, as Loui Eriksson roofed a shot off a Brad Richards pass from behind the net.
But that was the last of the scoring for either team, as Anaheim goalie Curtis McElhinney polished off his second straight win. McElhinney got the start in net after Jonas Hiller developed back spasms in the warmup.
The Ducks, who along with Dallas are a few too many points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, play at Colorado on Wednesday before returning to Honda Center for a Friday night match with Vancouver.
The Ducks have won six of their last eight games (6-2-0). Anaheim has also won five straight at Honda Center and are 16-3-1 in its last 20 contests at HOME.
With a goal and an assist tonight (1-1=2), Corey Perry has equaled his single-season high in points with 27-45=72 this year (32-40=72 in 2008-09). He has earned 4-6=10 points in the last eight games and 7-14=21 points in the last 20. Perry also has points in 15 of his last 17 contests at HOME (6-15=21).
3:08 - Selanne swings and misses on a slap shot, recovers, spins and backhands into Lehtonen.
2:40 - McElhinney is down and out of position, but still makes a pad save as Sutherby can't lift it.
0:00 - Off and running in the third, with a power play and a fresh sheet for 8 and the Ducks.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - A pleasant middle session for Anaheim, which gets three goals (including two in a 49-second span) and gives up one to take a 3-1 lead.
19:34 - DAL Penalty - Bench minor, 2 min. too many men on the ice. Teemu time?
19:25 - Selanne AGAIN with a good chance, as his one-timer from in deep off a Koivu pass goes off Lehtonen. This is eerily similar to when he was looking for 600.
16:55 - Selanne gets it from Blake in the circle, but fires high.
14:49 - DALLAS GOAL - LOUI ERIKSSON - Brad Richards has no one near him behind the Anaheim net before he sends a pass in front under Niedermayer's stick to Eriksson, who roofs it into the far corner. It's 3-1 Ducks.
13:30 - ANAHEIM GOAL - KYLE CHIPCHURA - Visnovsky creeps down the left wing before firing a shot from the edge of the circle that hits off Lehtonen and drops out in front of him. He somehow remains frozen as Chipchura receives the puck, holds it for a beat and sends it where they keep the peanut butter. Two goals in 49 seconds for Anaheim and it's 3-0.
12:41 - ANAHEIM GOAL - COREY PERRY - On the rush, Beleskey slides the puck from left to right to Perry on the wing and he rifles a wrist shot over Lehtonen's shoulder. It's a noticeably subdued celebration for Perry's 27th of the year and it's 2-0 home team.
8:29 - ANA Penalty - Troy Bodie, 2 min. hooking.
8:11 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - NICK BONINO - The kids get the first of his NHL life in just his second game and it comes off an assist from Selanne. Off Corey Perry's stick, the puck bounces high up near Selanne's chest and he lets it settle at his feet before feeding into the slot to Bonino, who whistles it under Lehtonen. And who immediately pulls the puck out of the net to give to Bonino? Selanne, who knows a little something about rookie goals. It's 1-0 Anaheim. Another cool moment, when the crowd cheers following the PA announcement that it's his first NHL goal, Bonino is caught on the bench unable to hold back a smile.
6:48 - DAL Penalty - Steve Ott, 2 min. roughing. Or hooking. We're not sure which one. It's a PP either way.
During the Fan Cam segment at the timeout, a little boy is dancing feverishly, looks up and realizes he's on camera, freezes, then laughs hysterically. I'm not much of a kid person, but that was about the cutest thing I've ever seen.
4:50 - Off a Koivu feed on the wing, Selanne fires off the glove of Lehtonen, and it flips just over the bar.
2:10 - Perry has a nice tip on a bouncing puck in front of the net but it goes high.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
1st Period 20:00 - END OF PERIOD - They won't be sending this one to the Hall of Fame. We're scoreless.
19:28 - Selanne snaps a shot from the wing into the Lehtonen glove.
It's just been reported that Hiller didn't start because of precautionary reasons after he experienced back spasms in the warmup.
16:40 - Bonino on the doorstep again, but can't get an angle on a rebound off a Blake shot.
14:41 - DAL Penalty - Loui Eriksson, 2 min. holding. Selanne out there again on the PP looking to tie Kurri at 601.
12:05 - Bonino's not going to get much closer than this to his first goal. Ryan takes a shot from in deep that hits off Lehtonen's pad and sits in the crease, but Bonino can't get a stick on it quick enough before it's frozen.
10:34 - DAL Penalty - Brian Sutherby, 2 min. roughing. Parros nearly sneaks one through past a Brown screen, then jumps into the scrum in front of the net, for which only former Duck Sutherby gets punished.
8:40 - Ryan with a nice drop pass to Bonino on his left, but the kid fires it off Lehtonen and a bit off the crossbar.
7:20 - Bodie is seemingly taken down by the stick of Mark Fistric, but there's no call. You can hear one guy chanting "Ref, you suck!" It's not quite taking.
5:14 - Bonino, skating again with Ryan and Perry, comes awfully close to his first NHL goal. Ryan sends the puck off the back wall right to Bonino with Lehtonen just getting back into position, but the rookie can't find the handle.
2:15 - ANA Penalty - Troy Bodie, 2 min. high stick. Penalty comes in the offensive zone.
1:50 - Ryan nearly provides another highlight-reeler, deking around Grossman and cutting in front of Lehtonen before losing control of the puck. If he had connected, it would have looked very similar to one he did in the same spot against the same team a year ago.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
7:11 p.m. - Teemu's family, including wife, kids and mother, are introduced before Jari Kurri, who gets a nice standing ovation from the crowd. Then on the big board is a special video presentation showing Selanne's best goals from over the years, from the first in Winnipeg all the way to 600 to the tune of "We Could Be Heroes" by the Wallflowers. Very cool, especially noticing Selanne watching it himself. Selanne is then introduced to a loud roar, as he skates out to greet his family, hug Kurri and the Samuelis and receive a Tiffany sterling silver platter with the signatures of every teammate on it. Kurri then presents a frame of the original scoresheet of his first NHL goal, the scoresheet and puck from No. 600 and pictures from that evening. He's asked by Kent French over the PA what it means to score No. 600 in front of these fans and you can barely hear him say the word "Unbelievable" over the din. It doesn't get much cooler. As he's posing for pictures with his daughter on his arm, a chant of "One more year!" goes up from the crowd. Finally, we have a ceremonial puck drop between Selanne and Dallas' Jere Lehtinen and it's game time.
7:07 p.m. - Very nice job on the anthem by the harmonious Good News Quartet. And here comes the Teemu ceremony... Starters in bold/italics. Scratches crossed out.