Reuters - Thu, 18 Feb 02:48:00 2010
Teemu Selanne grabbed a share of the all-time scoring record in the Olympic Winter Games as his Finnish ice hockey squad opened its competition with a 5-1 victory over Belarus.
Playing in his fifth Olympics, Selanne grabbed an assist on Olli Jokinen's power-play goal in the first period to lift his Olympics points total to 36.
Selanne, who plays for the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League, is tied with Canadian Harry Watson, former-Soviet Union great Valeri Kharmalov and Czechoslovakia's Vlastimil Bubnik atop the all-time Olympics scoring list.
"It's a big honour but it is not my goal," said Selanne, who has 20 goals and 16 assists in Olympic competition. "I have been around a long time and I have always played with good players and good things happen."
With plenty more ice hockey ahead it appears the 39-year-old Finnish Flash, playing with a full plastic shield to protect a broken jaw, is likely to leave Vancouver as the top scorer ever in the Winter Olympics.
One of the NHL's most dangerous scorers for almost two decades, it comes as no surprise that Selanne should find himself in such an elite group.
Selanne scored 76 goals in his rookie NHL season with the Winnipeg Jets in the 1992-93 season.
He needs five more goals to surpass childhood hero, and fellow Finn, Jari Kurri's 601 career goals to become the highest scoring Finnish player to compete in the NHL.
It was a solid start to the tournament for the 2006 Turin silver medallists as they jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead on powerplay tallies from Jokinen and Niklas Hagman.
Sergei Kostitsyn trimmed the advantage to 2-1 just seconds into the middle frame but Hagman restored Finland's two goal advantage before the end of the period when he swept the puck past Vitali Koval from his knees.
Finland stretched their lead to 4-1 just 23 seconds into the third on a Valtteri Filppula slap shot while Jarkko Ruutu completed the rout with about seven minutes to play.
Peter Forsberg and Jaromir Jagr were back on familiar ground stalking Olympic gold in their matches.
Two of the NHL's biggest names before returning to Europe to close out their brilliant careers, Forsberg and Jagr took sold-out crowds at Canada Hockey Place on trips down memory lane and showed they still belong among the sport's best.
The two former NHL scoring champions and league most valuable players will not be counted on for goals in Vancouver but are still capable leaders, both men selected to carry their country's flag in the opening ceremony.
Forsberg showed no sign of the chronic foot problems that forced him to end his NHL career prematurely three seasons ago but his Sweden team looked a little out of step as they began the defence of their Olympic title with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Germany.
Second period powerplay goals from Mattias Ohlund and Loui Eriksson were all the offense the Swedes could muster but it was more than enough as netminder Henrik Lundqvist notched the shutout with a little help from his goalposts.
"When they were hitting posts and crossbars it felt like my day," Lundqvist said. "It always feels good to get a shutout.
"But the funny thing about hockey, you feel like you're in control but you make one mistake and it's different."
Jagr showed he has not lost his scoring touch, contributing a goal and an assist as 1998 Olympic champions the Czech Republic tamed rivals Slovakia 3-1 in hard-hitting clash between the local rivals.
Follow the Winter Olympics 24/7 on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) and Eurosport HD (Sky 412). British Eurosport channels are streamed online via the Eurosport Player.