Jan 12, 2007, 5:20 AM EST
It had been nearly six years since Teemu Selanne had a hat trick.
None have been more special than the one he had in the Anaheim Ducks' 5-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.
Earlier on Thursday, Selanne had a phone conversation with a close friend in Finland. The friend has terminal cancer and asked Selanne to send him the puck if he had three goals.
Selanne promised to oblige but warned the friend that he hadn't had a hat trick since March 29, 2001, in a game against the Ducks when Selanne played for the San Jose Sharks.
"Today he found out that the cancer has spread to his brain," said Selanne, who has 19 career hat tricks. "I don't think he has much time to live. So I told him if I scored a hat trick I'd keep the puck. I told him the odds weren't very good that it would happen. Obviously it was really a sad day today, but what are you going to do? Life is not fair sometimes."
Hat tricks used to be a regular thing for Selanne, so his first three-goal outburst in almost six years was special for the 36-year-old native of Finland.
"In old times when I was younger, when I got two I knew I was going to get three and I wanted the third more than those first two," said Selanne, who improved to 28 goals for the season. "But as you get older, you're not so greedy anymore. It was one of those nights when the puck finds a way to get into the net."