ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya flourished when they were linemates with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Now it’s Andy McDonald combining with Selanne to form one of the best tandems in the NHL.
McDonald scored his sixth goal in six games and Selanne had two assists for the Ducks, who welcomed Kariya back to the Pond on Tuesday night and held him to only three shots on net in a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators.
Jonathan Hedstrom and Scott Niedermayer scored on power plays during the second period. Chris Kunitz got his first NHL goal on a breakaway with 2:58 left and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 32 saves for the Ducks, who have won four in a row and six straight on home ice, tying a franchise record.
“This was a good confidence boost for us,” Selanne said. “We just outworked them. We played good on special teams, and Giguere was outstanding again. Those are the things we need to win a lot of games. Every night when your goalie gives you a chance to win, the other players have to do the rest.”
Kariya and Selanne, the top two scorers in Mighty Ducks history, have faced each other 20 times—and both players have scored nine goals. They each had a hat trick on March 29, 2001, at San Jose, when Selanne and the Sharks beat Kariya and the Ducks 7-4.
“You always have to be careful when Paul is on the ice and you always have to pay attention to him because he’s a quick guy,” Giguere said. “He wants to do good against us, and I’m just glad we were able to shut him out tonight. But it’s too bad that people were booing him. He had nine good years here.”
Kariya still holds Anaheim’s club records for career goals, points, assists and games. Since leaving as a free agent after the 2002-03 season he has played four games against the Ducks, getting a goal and two assists. Selanne has an 11-9 advantage in the won-loss column.
“Only 11-9? I should be like 14-5,” Selanne said with a laugh. “That’s a good stat. I’m going to let him know. Playing against him is not as new as it was before, but it’s always nice because we’re very good friends. It’s nicer to play with him, but it’s also fun to play against him. I know pretty well what he’s going to do before he even does it, so it’s kind of funny.”
Kariya, whose teams are 2-2 in the head-to-head duels against Selanne, missed two other matchups while with Colorado because of a sprained right wrist. On Oct. 8 at Nashville, the Predators beat the Ducks 3-2 with Kariya scoring the only goal in a shootout.
But this time, Yanic Perreault’s 200th NHL goal couldn’t prevent Nashville’s third straight loss following an 8-0-0 start.
McDonald tied the score 1-all just 17 seconds after the first intermission. He took a pass off the left boards from Todd Fedoruk just before reaching the Nashville blue line, outraced center David Legwand down the ice and backhanded the puck between Tomas Vokoun’s pads from the edge of the crease.
Hedstrom put Anaheim ahead 2-1 less than five minutes later while Legwand was serving a hooking penalty. McDonald had the puck in the right circle, stickhandled toward the middle and took a 20-foot wrist shot that glanced off Hedstrom’s stick and trickled through Vokoun’s legs.
Selanne earned his 966th NHL point with an assist on Hedstrom’s goal, edging past Maurice “Rocket” Richard into 73rd place on the career list.
Selanne got another assist at 18:58 of the second when he set up Niedermayer’s one-timer at the right side of the net, which fluttered over Vokoun’s left shoulder and gave the Ducks a 3-1 lead. The goal came while Scott Hartnell was off for cross-checking, giving Anaheim nine power-play goals in its last four games.
“We took bad penalties and didn’t capitalize on our power play,” Kariya said. “We lost the special-teams battle. If you look at the teams that are winning, they’re killing penalties and they’ve got their power play going. Their power play’s going really good, and I think that’s been the key to their success of late.”
On the other end, the Ducks did not allow a power-play goal for the first time in 13 games this season. The Predators were 0-for-7 with the man advantage.
The NHL may have set an attendance record for October with an average of 16,820 per game, but it didn’t get much help from the Ducks—who averaged 12,781 in their final five home games last month at the 17,174-seat Pond after selling out their home opener. Tuesday night’s crowd was just 11,690 despite Kariya’s return. … This is the third time the Ducks have swept a four-game homestand. The common thread in all three streaks were victories against St. Louis. … The Predators have been outshot in each of their last nine games, including a 35-33 margin by the Ducks.