Teemu Selanne breaks Finland's goal scoring record

selanne602.jpgTeemu Selanne passed his idol Jari Kurri to become Finland’s all-time leading NHL goal scorer last night. The Finnish Flash potted career goals number 602 and 603 against the Canucks in a losing effort.

Selanne and Kurri developed a friendship over the years, even playing together for a brief period of time with the Ducks in the 1996-97 season. Kurri traveled to Anaheim to congratulate his countryman. Here’s what was said a few days ago in the Los Angeles Times.

“Six hundred was by far the bigger goal – 601 or 606 doesn’t really matter – but if you can pass your idol, that would be very special,” Selanne said, calling Kurri’s decision to make the long trip and his enthusiasm for the milestone “awesome.”

“I’m so happy for him,” said Kurri, a Hockey Hall of Famer who last month served as the general manager for Finland in Selanne’s fifth Olympic Games. “Why wouldn’t I be happy for him? It’s great.”

As a youngster, Selanne had a picture of Kurri and Wayne Gretzky on his bedroom wall. He wore a replica of Kurri’s No. 17 Edmonton Oilers jersey so often that, one year, he posed for a school picture in it.

With all due respect to Mikko Koivu, it will be quite some time until another Finnish hockey player will threaten the 600 goal mark. Simply put, Kuri and Selanne stand shoulder-to-shoulder as the best scorers the country has ever seen.

It’s been a year of milestones for the classy sniper as he also hit career powerplay goal number 218, which apparently places him ninth all-time on that list. Check out the top 10 all-time leaders in PPG, according to hockey-reference.com. (Asterisks are for players who are in the Hall of Fame.)

1. Dave Andreychuk 274
2. Brett Hull* 265
3. Phil Esposito* 249
4. Luc Robitaille* 247
5. Brendan Shanahan 237
6. Mario Lemieux* 236
7. Marcel Dionne* 234
8. Dino Ciccarelli 232
9. Teemu Selanne 218
10. Mike Gartner* 217

It’s pretty mind blowing that Dave Andreychuk is the all-time champion in goals with the man advantage, besting the likes of Brett Hull, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. Other active players who are high on the list include Keith Tkachuk (12th all-time with 212) and Mark Recchi (17th all-time with 194).

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    Team USA general manager Jim Johannson dies at age 53

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    Sad news from USA hockey on Sunday morning as the organization announced that Jim Johannson, the assistant executive director or USA Hockey and the general manager of the 2018 men’s Olympic hockey team, has died at the age of 53.

    According to the announcement, Johannson passed away in his sleep early Sunday morning at his home in Colorado Springs.

    “We are beyond shocked and profoundly saddened,” Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey, said in a statement released by the organization.

    “As accomplished as Jim was in hockey, he was the absolute best, most humble, kind and caring person you could ever hope to meet. His impact on our sport and more importantly the people and players in our sport have been immeasurable. Our condolences go out to his entire family, but especially to his loving wife Abby and their young daughter Ellie.”

    “In building the teams that achieved so much success for USA Hockey, Jim Johannson had a sharp eye for talent, a strong sense of chemistry and a relentless pursuit of excellence,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement. “The NHL family’s respect for Jim’s contributions to hockey, at all levels, is exceeded only by our shock and sorrow over his sudden passing. We send strength, comfort and condolences to Jim’s wife, Abby, his daughter, Ellie, and his many friends in our sport. As we mourn his loss, we will remember the positive outlook Jim brought to his tireless efforts to advance USA Hockey.”

    He had been with USA Hockey since 2000. During his time Team USA won 64 medals (34 gold) at various international tournaments.

    He helped assemble the 2018 men’s team which will be using non-NHL players for the first time since the 1994 games.

    Johannson played hockey at the collegiate level for the University of Wisconsin and was a seventh-round draft pick by the Hartford Whalers in 1982. He never made it to the NHL but had a successful career in the International Hockey League playing for the Salt Lake Golden Eagles, Indianapolis Ice, and Milwaukee Admirals.

    Along with being one of the top executives for USA hockey for years, Johannson also represented Team USA on the ice as a player during the 1988 games in Calgary and the 1992 games in Albertville.

    He scored two goals for Team USA in Olympic competition.

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    WATCH LIVE: Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals

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    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    PROJECTED LINES

    Philadelphia Flyers

    Forwards

    Claude GirouxSean CouturierTravis Konecny

    Michael RafflValtteri Filppula – Jake Voracek

    Jordan WealNolan PatrickWayne Simmonds

    Jori LehteraScott Laughton – Tyrell Goulbourne

    Defense

    Ivan ProvorovShayne Gostisbehere

    Robert Hägg – Andrew MacDonald

    Brandon ManningRadko Gudas

    Starting Goalie: Brian Elliott

    [NHL ON NBC: FLYERS LOOK TO STAY HOT AGAINST CAPITALS]

    Washington Capitls

    Forwards

    Alex OvechkinEvgeny KuznetsovTom Wilson

    Andrei Burakovsky – Nicklas BackstromT.J. Oshie

    Chandler StephensonLars EllerBrett Connolly

    Devante Smith-PellyJay BeagleAlex Chiasson

    Defense

    Christian DjoosJohn Carlson

    Dmitry OrlovMatt Niskanen

    Brooks OrpikMadison Bowey

    Starting Goalie: Braden Holtby

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    NHL On NBC: Flyers Look to stay hot against Capitals

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    Before the city of Philadelphia loses its collective minds on Sunday evening for the NFC Championship game, the local hockey team — which is playing extremely well again! — will be back on the ice when it visits the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon for a 12:30 p.m. ET puck drop. You can watch it live on NBC or on our NBC Sports Live Stream

    The Flyers have been one of the most maddeningly inconsistent teams in the league this season going back and forth between extended winning streaks and lengthy cold streaks. At the moment, they are back on one of the hot streaks.

    After defeating the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon the Flyers have now won six of their past seven and seven of their past nine and enter Sunday’s game just one point behind the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, while having games in hand on both teams (one on the Rangers entering Sunday; still three on the Penguins). A win against the Capitals could jump them over both teams and put them just one point back of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the third spot in the Metropolitan Division.

    The Flyers are led by the trio of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier, all of whom are among the NHL’s top-2o scorers this season. Giroux is currently fourth in the league in total points, while Voracek has four most assists than any other player in the league. Couturier, going through a massive breakout season offensively, has been one of the best two-way centers in the league and has to be one of the front-runners for the Selke Trophy at the halfway point of the season.

    The Capitals, meanwhile, are not quite as dominant as they were the past two seasons when they won back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies, but they are still among the top teams in the league. They have lost two in a row and three out of their past four heading into Sunday afternoon’s game against the Flyers, but are coming in with a couple of days rest while they get a Flyers team that just played 24 hours ago. So they are catching a little bit of a break from the schedule.

    Alex Ovechkin is once again the driving force behind the Capitals’ offense and enters Sunday as the league’s leading goal-scorer with 28. He is flirting with what could be another 50-goal season.

    There is going to be plenty of star power on the ice on Sunday afternoon with five of the league’s top-35 scorers (Giroux, Voracek, Ovechkin, Couturier, Evgeny Kuznetsov), the top goal-scorer (Ovechkin), and two of the top-five scoring defensemen (John Carlson, Shayne Gostisbehere).

    Do not miss it.

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    The Buzzer: Pulock opens it up; Price is wronged

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    Players of the Night:

    • Whoa, Ryan Pulock. The Islanders rookie collected one goal and four assists for an unexpected five-point night. He came into Saturday with nine points in 33 games so far in 2017-18, but maybe this will open things up for the young blueliner. Pulock played a big role in the Islanders pasting the Blackhawks 7-3.
    • John Klingberg collected three assists as the Dallas Stars dominated the Buffalo Sabres 7-1. For more on the Norris Trophy argument Klingberg is making, click here.
    • The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the third period down 3-1 to the Ottawa Senators. Jake Gardiner collected two of his three assists during their rally back, helping Toronto erase that deficit and win 4-3 in regulation. Gardiner had to pick up some of the slack for Toronto with Morgan Rielly sidelined.
    • There were some other strong nights, such as Nick Bonino chipping in three points to help the Predators stay hot.

    Lowlight of the Night:

    You won’t see Carey Price allow many goals as bad as this one. At least, the Habs have to hope not in his later years, as his $10.5 million cap hit won’t kick in until 2018-19.

    More than a few wonder if the Canadiens’ playoff hopes died with a poor showing in three recent games against the Bruins.

    Highlights:

    Patrick Marleau: not too old to essentially shrug off a hit. Nice.

    Nice glove stops from Jimmy Howard

    And Mike Smith:

    Meanwhile, this is comes down to cool editing as much as it was a nice goal:

    Fantastic stuff from the Sharks.

    Factoids

    The Bruins are red-hot, and might start putting the heat on the Lightning:

    While the Avalanche might be even hotter?

    (More on those rising Avs here.)

    An additional Pulock fact for ya …

    Scores

    Stars 7, Sabres 1
    Flyers 3, Devils 1
    Avalanche 3, Rangers 1
    Jets 2, Flames 1 (SO)
    Bruins 4, Canadiens 1
    Maple Leafs 4, Senators 3
    Hurricanes 3, Red Wings 1
    Sharks 2, Penguins 1
    Coyotes 5, Blues 2
    Predators 4, Panthers 3
    Islanders 7, Blackhawks 3
    Wild 5, Lightning 2
    Oilers 5, Canucks 2

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.