Teemu Selanne will return to play for the Ducks on Wednesday night, Coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed following the team's morning skate at Honda Center.
Selanne is expected to be activated for the 7 p.m. Pacific Division game against the hot Phoenix Coyotes (11-3-2, five-game winning streak) after practicing with the team Tuesday. Selanne was accidentally hit in the mouth by a high stick Oct. 29 in Philadelphia.
The 43-year-old forward credited wearing a mouthguard -- something he said he didn’t do for the first 1,000 or so games of his NHL career -- for sparing him from bone-fracturing damage that would have required oral surgery.
Instead, Selanne lost four front fake teeth that have been replaced by a bridge and the 40 stitches he required to close the damage have been removed.
“The old guy heals quick,” Boudreau said. “It’s just another reason why he’s been in the game so long and why he’s done so well: he wants to come back and play. … He’s looking fine.”
ALSO HEALING: Center Saku Koivu (concussion) skated after most of the Ducks had left the ice Wednesday, and Boudreau said he needed to talk to the veteran before knowing whether he could play.
Goalie Viktor Fasth (lower body injury) was briefly on the ice Wednesday, and will go through a full practice with the Ducks on Thursday, “and we’ll see after a few more practices when he’ll play,” Boudreau said.
In Fasth’s absence, goalie Frederik Andersen has won four games, including all three starts on the team’s 5-2-1 trip that ended Monday in New York.
Forward Matt Beleskey (broken left thumb) needs more time, Boudreau saying he’s “getting closer.”
BEST IN LEAGUE: The Ducks (12-3-1) lead the NHL in points, are 5-0-1 in their last six games, are 5-0 at home and also lead the league with 44 goals in normal 5-on-5 situations.
“It says a lot about the group,” said Boudreau, who now has a 37-14-5 record in October. The 2-1 Ottawa game Oct. 25 “was really tough, but we hung in there and kept getting better. You start to believe you can win. It was a great trip. I was worried about it when it started. To get through this stretch, it’s looking up.”
Boudreau said he never mentioned the word fatigue, beating it by having the team travel right after games instead of the next morning.
“We looked at it as our goals are weekly goals – three games, two games, small goals,” he said.
The team’s depth also shined as Selanne, Koivu and forward Jakob Silfverberg were lost.
“Those are the times in the season you build that character and see the chemistry,” Ducks forward Corey Perry said after scoring four goals with three assists on the trip. “We went out and found that extra gear each game. Some games, it wasn’t our best hockey, but we found a way to pull through with a win.
“It was a lot of games, a lot of nights, but everyone has to do it.”
Phoenix beat visiting Vancouver 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday night, and its defenseman have scored a league-leading 12 goals and 42 points.
After three games at home this week, the Ducks depart again for a trip to Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Pittsburgh from Nov. 12-18.
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