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Beyak: Selanne earns standing ovation in return to Winnipeg

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Dennis Beyak
12/18/2011 9:42:06 AM
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It was a night of mixed emotions for a lot of people Saturday as the Jets met the Anaheim Ducks. Teemu Selanne was a terrific Winnipeg Jet when the Jets were first in the NHL. After three-plus years, he was dealt to Anaheim. "The trade, it all happened so quickly, I never had a chance to say goodbye to a great city and all the great fans," said Selanne. A 76-goal rookie season will be tough to break.

A standing ovation when Selanne came onto the ice, another when the Jets paid tribute to the "Finnish Flash" on the big screen, another at the end of the game and yet another when he came out after being selected one of the games stars. As for the game, two assists for Selanne to extend his point streak to eight games (2-9-11). He was also stoned by Chris Mason in the third period when he was one on one with the Jets netminder.

The Jets won the game 5-3, a game that was not played very well. Plenty of turnovers, questionable goaltending from Dan Ellis, some sloppy play by the Jets in the third that allowed the Ducks to stay in the game, and some east/west play when Coach Claude Noel wanted north/south.

But in the end it was a win, and two points to help stay in the playoff hunt in the eastern conference. Jets jumped out to a 2-0 lead as Kyle Wellwood and Blake Wheeler scored. A time out and the standing ovation for Selanne during the first commercial break sparked the Ducks and it was 2-2 after one. Alexander Burmistrov back in the lineup after missing two due to injury scored 31 seconds into the second and Andrew Ladd scored with 1:40 left in the second to give the Jets a 4-2 lead after two periods. The Ducks felt Ellis was interfered with on Ladd's goal. Zac Bogosian scored early in the third to make it 5-2, one that Ellis would like back, and the Jets then held on for the win.

Nik Antropov was back in the lineup and was a huge benefit to Wellwood and Ladd. Wellwood had a goal and an assist on the night. Leading the way offensively was Bogosian with a goal and two assits for a three point night, his best output of the season. Corey Perry had two for the Ducks.Wheeler has 14 points in 14 games, two assists for Dustin Byfuglien gives him 19 points in the last 20 games.

Jets lost Bryan Little in the first when he was hit in the back of the leg with a Byfuglien slap shot. He played one shift after getting hit and then left for the night. Little and Jim Slater are the Jets best face off tandem and with one being a left handed shot and the other a right, it gave Coach Noel a great one/two face-off punch. With Little gone, that all fell onto the shoulders of Slater. He ended up taking 30 faceoffs.

Coach Noel had praise for this goaltender. "He has always been a battler," said the coach, who had Mason with the two were in the Nashville organization. "He made key saves at key times. There is not margin of error for him. He has to be sharp right off the get go."

The cheering for Selanne, booing for other Ducks made for a different night. "There were mixed emotions coming from the crowd. Looked like we were confused." added Coach Noel.  Toby Enstrom returned after missing 20 games and picked up a power play assist. "It was a tough game for him to play. They went after him physically." As for the game, "There was very little comfort, even when it was 5-2. They had the puck a lot of the time. But it wasn't the prettiest win, but it's a win. With players returning the lineup, we need some together practice time."

Not in the lineup was Antti Miettinen, as Coach Noel feels he needs a few more days to get ready to give himself the opportunity to succeed in front of the home town crowd. Jets play host to the New York Islanders Tuesday (TSN Jets, TSN 1290).

So from a Jets fan perspective, a good night. The team wins and a two points for Selanne. It may have been his last game at the MTS Centre, as many feel he will retire at the end of the season. The man can still play as he continues to lead the Ducks in scoring.

With Enstrom back, the game marked the first time since game four of the regular schedule that the Jets had their top six "D" in the linuep.

Teemu Selanne (Photo: Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
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