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Francois Beauchemin leads Ducks past Coyotes, 6-2

The defenseman scores two goals and adds an assist to lead the Ducks' resurgent offense.

January 18, 2012|By Lisa Dillman

Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau was talking about the long-standing difficulty of playing that first game at home after an intense stretch on the road in Canada.

He stopped and wanted to make it abundantly clear that he was not finding fault, not a bit, after the Ducks defeated the Phoenix Coyotes, 6-2, on Wednesday night at Honda Center. Defenseman Francois Beauchemin scored twice and added an assist.

"I'm not complaining at all," Boudreau said. "We scored six goals. There's times this year we would have taken half of that and been happy."

Yes, the dry spells around Anaheim seemed to last months, not weeks, during the first half of the season. Now the goals are coming in a rush — 31 in their last seven games — and they are 6-0-1 in their last seven. The Ducks took a 2-2 game and scored four unanswered goals against the Coyotes, and goaltender Jonas Hiller is looking like the Hiller of old.

The Ducks' latest burst came in unusual fashion — just one point from their big line of Corey Perry-Ryan Getzlaf-Bobby Ryan. Perry scored a short-handed goal with 3:37 remaining. It was his 21st goal of the season.

It was interesting that the goals flowing from the defensemen came from Beauchemin, who had a two-goal game for the third time in his career. "It's always fun to score goals," he said.

Carrying the night was the speedy third line, which was responsible for six points. Jason Blake had a goal and an assist, Nick Bonino added two assists and Andrew Cogliano recorded two assists.

"It's huge," Beauchemin said. "It's huge. Especially in a game like that tonight. Getzy's line got support from the Cogliano line. I think they were probably our best line with Blake and Bonino. They were really hard on their [Coyotes] team and they got the puck deep."

Cogliano was especially pleased with the way his line responded after it was on the ice for the Coyotes' first goal.

"There's been stretches during games where we haven't played good," he said. "But I'm happy how we've responded. We let the first goal in, out there for the first goal, the mistake. We could have packed in it and had a bad game, but we responded.

It's enlightening that the jolt of energy surging through the Ducks lineup didn't come via a blockbuster trade, or any sort of deal. How about the return of a 38-year-old forward who suffered a career-threatening injury in the third game of the season?

Not many knew quite what to expect when Blake missed almost three months after he was accidentally cut on the left wrist by the skate of San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns.

The answer emerged less than two weeks into his return: goals and wins. Blake has four goals in his last three games.

"He's always had energy and he's always played bigger than he was," Boudreau said at the morning skate. "He's had to prove himself probably since he's been 7 years old, and so, being older or returning off an injury, I just think he digs deeper and it's one of those things he has to prove it again."

Labor front

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman met with reporters before the game and started his comments by saying that he did not have anything in the way of news. But when asked about starting the collective bargaining process, he said he expected the league would sit down with the players' union in the next few weeks.

"Whenever they're ready, we're ready. We've been ready," Bettman said.

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