ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Sami Vatanen has been waiting months for his first chance in an NHL shootout. After a gritty rally in regulation and five tense rounds, the Finnish defenseman finally got a chance to end a victory for the Anaheim Ducks.
To do it for Teemu just made it sweeter.
Vatanen scored in the sixth round of the shootout, and the Ducks rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period for a 5-4 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night.
On his first career shootout attempt, Vatanen won it for his fellow Finn. A few hours earlier, both teams watched an emotional pregame ceremony honoring Teemu Selanne, whose No. 8 jersey was retired by the Ducks.
“I have to say I was honored I had the chance,” said the 23-year-old Vatanen, who grew up idolizing Selanne. “Maybe I can say to my grandsons someday I made the game-winning goal on Teemu’s night.”
Selanne started his NHL career in Winnipeg before spending parts of 15 seasons in Anaheim, retiring last summer at 43 years old as the franchise scoring leader.
With Selanne watching from a luxury box, Rickard Rakell scored the tying goal with 2:03 left for the Ducks, capping the first multipoint game of his NHL career with two goals and two assists.
“We all felt it was a special night,” said Rakell, who spent plenty of time last season around Selanne, a fellow rink rat who showed up early and stayed late. “It was almost like a playoff spirit out there with the fans going and retiring Teemu’s jersey. We really wanted to win this game.”
Rakell and Ryan Kesler scored shootout goals to keep the game alive after Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane scored early for Winnipeg. Mark Scheifele missed in the sixth round before Vatanen beat Ondrej Pavelec to clinch the NHL-leading Ducks’ third win in four games.
Kyle Palmieri also scored in the third period for Anaheim. Tim Jackman scored and Frederik Andersen stopped 28 shots in the Ducks’ fourth straight win over Winnipeg.
“It’s been fairly emotional,” said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, whose frayed relationship with Selanne has been mended. “It was one of those games we couldn’t get anything going off the bat, but if you believe you can come back and do some of the right things, you always have a chance.”
Scheifele had a goal and an assist, captain Andrew Ladd also scored, and Pavelec stopped 39 shots in the Jets’ fifth loss in seven games.
Kane and Zach Bogosian scored in the first period for the Jets, but they failed to finish their three-game road trip with back-to-back weekend victories in Southern California. One night after Winnipeg scored on its first three shots in a 5-4 shootout win in Los Angeles, the Jets scored three times on their first eight shots in Anaheim.
“It’s a real positive,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said after taking three points from the local NHL powers. “Doesn’t happen very often in this league. … I feel like you don’t blow leads against Los Angeles and Anaheim. The top two centers on those teams are as good as there are in the league. I don’t feel we blew leads in these games.”
Yet the Ducks rallied impressively after killing four full minutes of power-play time for the Jets — most of it with a two-man advantage — stretching over the second intermission.
After Palmieri scored on a backhand with 13:35 to play, Rakell cashed in a pass from Patrick Maroon after Dustin Byfuglien turned over the puck behind Winnipeg’s net. Rakell, who also got a power-play goal in the first period, had scored one goal in his first 53 NHL games.
Scheifele’s rebound goal late in the first period put the Jets up 3-1 and provoked light booing from the Honda Center crowd. Jackman kept it close with his third goal of the season, but Ladd scored on a 2-on-1 with Wheeler to put the Jets up 4-2 entering the third.
NOTES: Rakell’s four points tied the franchise rookie record held by captain Ryan Getzlaf and Stanislav Chistov. … The teams warmed up in various versions of Selanne’s jerseys over the past two decades with the two clubs. The Jets all wore vintage No. 13 jerseys, while several Anaheim players wore Mighty Ducks jerseys. Andersen wore a special mask paying tribute to Selanne, and Honda Center painted a large “8” behind both nets. … Anaheim still hasn’t lost a one-goal game in regulation all season.
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