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Kyle Palmieri scores early and often in Ducks' win

The winger breaks out of a slump with a natural hat trick to help Anaheim defeat the Predators, 5-1, and finish February with an 11-2 record.

February 27, 2013|By Lance Pugmire

Kyle Palmieri withheld some glee for the sake of professionalism, but a look of joy and amazement crossed the Ducks winger's face Wednesday.

Just 1 minute 7 seconds into the second period, Palmieri, 22, already had a natural hat trick in the bank — the sixth time in club history that a player had scored three consecutive goals in a game.

"I couldn't believe it at first I wasn't sure it went in, but it was an awesome feeling," Palmieri said.

All three goals came on direct assists from teammate Corey Perry, who flashed a wide smile at Palmieri, nodding back his too-good-to-be-true glance.

The Palmieri onslaught allowed the Ducks to cruise to a 5-1 victory over Nashville for their seventh consecutive victory at Honda Center.

Shrugging off a Monday loss at the Kings, the Ducks (14-3-1) tied a club record with their 11th victory in one month, finishing 11-2 in February.

"We were determined," Coach Bruce Boudreau said after his team improved to 4-0 after a loss this season. "We've told the guys that good teams lose a game. The league's too tough. But the real good ones don't lose two in a row."

By the end of the first period, the Ducks were ahead 3-0 against a slumbering Predators team (9-7-5) playing its fourth game in six days.

Palmieri scored his second goal by smacking a shot off an assist Perry generated after gathering a face-off offering.

The Ducks needed just 3:49 to seize a 2-0 lead in the first on goals by Nick Bonino and Palmieri.

Bonino's was set up by Long Beach rookie Emerson Etem, who impressively sprinted toward a loose puck that Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne was working to collect behind the net.

Etem instead got his stick to control the puck first and dished it behind him to Bonino, who banged the puck into the vacated net.

A minute later, the Ducks rapidly moved the puck up the ice, from Ryan Getzlaf to Perry to Palmieri, who took his sprint toward Rinne and beat him by firing a shot to the low right side of the goal.

"He's a shooter," Getzlaf said of Palmieri. "He does a great job of finding areas with his speed on the outside."

Palmieri began the season as a member of the team's first line, but he had just one goal through five games and was replaced by Daniel Winnik, among others, before rejoining Perry and Getzlaf Wednesday and upping his goal total to seven.

"He hadn't played left wing before; there are growing pains in this league," Boudreau said. "It seemed to work. I think we'll stay with it."

Ducks rookie goaltender Viktor Fasth had 21 saves to improve to 9-1 as a starter.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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