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Ducks defeat Phoenix Coyotes, 4-1, as Nik Hagman scores twice

Rod Pelley and Kyle Palmieri also contribute goals at Honda Center, and Lubomir Visnovsky returns from injury.

December 14, 2011|By Lisa Dillman

The Ducks managed to climb out of the NHL basement after landing there with a resounding thud a day earlier.

The lights flicked back on — from unexpected sources and an old friend — and managed to stay on during the Ducks' 4-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night at Honda Center.

That's no small feat this season, considering the Ducks' proclivity for blowing leads of two goals — and, no less, a three-goal lead in Bruce Boudreau's first game as their coach on Dec. 2. This was their first win in three games and they are tied for 28th in the NHL, jumping back over Columbus.

"I thought this was the hardest I've seen a team work this year, that I've been coaching," Boudreau said. "And that includes the Capitals too.

The unexpected sources were Ducks goal-scorers Rod Pelley, Nik Hagman and Kyle Palmieri. Hagman, playing on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, scored twice for his 15th career multigoal game, the first goal coming on a power play.

And the old friend?

That was the much-missed, offense-minded defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who played his first game in more than a month, having been out because of a broken finger on his hand. He suffered the injury on Nov. 11 against Vancouver.

Not only did the Ducks win just twice in the 13 games he missed, but they also greatly missed his skillful ways on the power play and his natural exuberance.

Visnovsky played a game-high 24-plus minutes, assisted on the game's first goal, by Pelley in the first period, and had seven shots on goal and four blocked shots.

"Let's go play all season like this," he said, beaming.

Said Boudreau: "You could tell that he was sorely missed for the last 13 games. Just look at the team's record when he was out. He's a dynamic player and when he's in, it gives you another advantage. You don't have to play Cam [Fowler] for 26 minutes. You need your best players to be your best players and Lubo was again tonight."

Visnovsky felt fairly certain he would be able to play Wednesday, especially after a decent practice Tuesday. But even at 35, he admitted to feeling more nervous.

"You know, like new coach, new system," Visnovsky said.

"I don't play for month and it's like pressure because everybody, 'Lubo's back. Lubo's back.'"

Back to the unexpected sources. Pelley, who was acquired in a trade with New Jersey on Monday, scored in his Ducks debut, showing a nice burst of speed down the wing in going around Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin. Pelley had not scored since Jan. 17, when he was with the Devils.

Hagman, pulled off waivers from Calgary earlier this season, looked sharp with Getzlaf and Perry.

"It's nice to see. If we can get him back to scoring the way he used to, then it sure adds a dynamic that we haven't had for a while. He could have had four or five" goals, Boudreau said. "Corey [Perry] was putting them on his tape in the third period. But two is good."

Said Hagman: "It's nice to get into the game. I've known all the time that I can score goals. ... It's nice to get a bit of a reward. Obviously, there has been really tough times and when you are not playing a lot, seven or eight minutes a game. You feel like there is no faith in you and it's tough to go and light it up. But obviously it's something you've just got to believe.

"I've been trying to work hard all the time and do things well in practice and eventually it'll happen. If not then, it wasn't meant to happen."

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