VANCOUVER -- The biggest loser proved one of the biggest winners at Canada Hockey Place on Wednesday.
With his jaw wired after being struck by a deflected puck last month, Teemu Selanne still skated into Winter Olympics history during Finland's opening 5-1 victory over Belarus.
With a first-period assist, Selanne equalled the Olympic mark of 36 career points shared by Valeri Kharlamov, Vlastimil Bubnik and Harry Watson. And in his humble, self-deprecating style, Selanne said he wasn't even aware he was approaching the Olympic record.
"The media told me," said Selanne, who is trying to regain a dozen pounds he lost on a liquid feeding regimen and had to wear a full face shield to protect the injury. "Obviously, it's a big honour. I've been around a long time and it's a nice compliment. But I've been lucky over the years and I've always played with great players and it's nothing more than that."
The record has placed the ageless Finn on equal footing with all-time greats in the Olympic arena.
In 26 appearances through five Olympics, the 39-year-old winger has 20 goals and 16 assists and is five goals short of the modern-era Olympic mark held by Sven Johansson and Vladimir Zabrodsky.
"It says a lot, no matter what, and Teemu has been a real important player for our team both on and off the ice and he deserves (the record)," Ottawa Senators winger Jarkko Ruutu said of Selanne, who finished with nine shots Wednesday and doesn't look like he's finished with the game, although this will be his final Olympics.
Selanne started the scoring sequence on the game's opening goal to move into the history books. He fed Saku Koivu on the power play and his cross-ice pass found Olli Jokinen wide open at side of the net for an easy tap-in effort.
-- Canwest News Service