ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Being forced to use a legal stick in the playoffs may cramp Teemu Selanne’s style. If the Anaheim Ducks plan on winning the Stanley Cup, he’ll have no choice.
Ron Wilson, Selanne’s former coach in Anaheim and San Jose, exposed the Ducks’ career leading goal scorer moments before overtime while the Sharks were short-handed. That evened things at three skaters apiece, and San Jose sent on to beat the Pacific Division leaders 3-2 Wednesday night with shootout goals by Jonathan Cheechoo and Ryane Clowe.
“We had an inkling that his stick might be too wide,” said Wilson, who had Selanne on his teams in San Jose and Anaheim. “When you look at it, it’s almost the length of a goalie stick. I was just rolling the dice, and I figured I’d do it in the overtime and it worked.”
San Jose’s Scott Hannan and Steve Bernier tied the score with second-period goals, and the Sharks were short-handed for the final 36 seconds of regulation after Craig Rivet was sent off for hooking. However, the Sharks managed to avoid the rest of Anaheim’s power play after Wilson had the officials examine Selanne’s stick.
“The ice is so bad in the NHL, you have to have that because the puck is bouncing all over,” said Selanne, who spent a season in San Jose before returning to Anaheim as a free agent two seasons ago. “I’ll bet there’s a lot of guys that do, but you have to respect the rule. I wasn’t very happy about what happened. Obviously, I didn’t expect that call. Whether it was classy or not, it was Ron Wilson’s decision. He’s not my favorite coach anymore.”
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle took full responsibility for the mistake and deflected attention from his best player.
“The issue of the stick is my fault, in the sense that I have to make sure that I reinforce and even go to a point where all the sticks are measured,” Carlyle said. “I have to make sure that those things are not an issue, and they were tonight. It might have cost us a point, it might not have. But I’ll accept the responsibility.”
Forced to use a normal stick in the shootout, Selanne lost the handle on the puck just as he approached the net with the Ducks’ second attempt. Clowe beat Ilya Bryzgalov to the glove side with a short backhander, and the Ducks’ Andy McDonald completely fanned on his shot at the other end.
McDonald and Scott Niedermayer scored first-period goals for the Pacific Division-leading Ducks, who wrapped up their home schedule with a 26-6-9 record — matching the franchise mark for home wins set last season. They conclude the regular-season Saturday night at Columbus before opening up the playoffs next week at Honda Center.
The Sharks played their final road game of the regular season and ended up 26-14-1 away from HP Pavilion—the first time they have finished with more than 19 road wins in their 16-year history. They host Calgary and Vancouver in their final two games before the playoffs.
After spotting Anaheim a 2-0 lead, Hannan got San Jose on the board at 7:57 of the second period with a slap shot from the right point while Bernier and Mike Grier were screening Bryzgalov near the crease. Bernier tied it at 15:42 of the period with a short-hander for his 15th goal, following a turnover behind the net by Anaheim defenseman Joe DiPenta.
Bryzgalov made 29 saves. He got the start in place of Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who became a father for the first time early Wednesday morning. His son, Maxime Olivier Giguere, checked in 20 minutes after midnight local time, weighing 6 pounds and 8 ounces.
Anaheim opened the scoring at 6:19 of the first period, McDonald took a 25-foot wrist shot that snuck between Evgeni Nabokov’s pads for his 27th goal and eighth in 12 games. Nabokov made 37 saves, six in overtime.
Niedermayer made it 2-0 on a power play at 14:01 of the period with his 15th goal, surpassing his previous career high set in 2003-04 with New Jersey when he won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman.
Sebastien Caron served as Bryzgalov’s backup. … The Sharks finished a combined 18-13-1 against Pacific Division opponents. … Sharks RW Bill Guerin was back in the lineup after sitting out Sunday’s 6-2 win over the Kings to rest a sore groin muscle.