Teemu 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).
Bryan Rust is really having himself a series.
After opening the scoring in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, Rust took matters into his own hands after Jonathan Drouin evened the score for Tampa Bay, notching his second goal of the game — just 30 seconds after Drouin scored — to put Pittsburgh back out in front, 2-1.
Before digging into the Rust goal (posted above), let’s take a moment to appreciate Drouin’s snipe, one that whizzed by Pittsburgh netminder Matt Murray:
Now, back to Rust.
With that second goal he’s now racked up eight points for the playoffs, just three back of the 11 he put up over the course of the entire regular season. The former Notre Dame standout has become a major storyline, and now sits tied with Patric Hornqvist for the team lead in even-strength playoff goals.
Not bad for a guy that spent a fair chunk of the year in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, eh?
What an Eastern Conference Final for Bryan Rust.
Rust scored his second goal of the series — and third point in as many games — to open the scoring on Friday night, giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead over the Lighting at Consol.
After scoring just 11 points during the regular season, Rust — in just his second season at the NHL level — now has seven points in 16 playoff games, and has emerged as a vital bottom-six contributor in the process.
Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin notched assists on Rust’s goal, which came early in the second period. The Pens out-shot the Bolts 8-5 in the first period, but were unable to get one past Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Oh, and speaking of Kunitz, he’s also produced extremely well in this series — he now has six points in his last five games.
As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.
Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.
Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.
That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.
Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.
It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.
To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.
Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.
In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.
And then Stamkos took the warmup.
As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.
“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”
No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.