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Bjugstad's four points power Panthers past Ducks

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- The story going into the game Sunday was the return of Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry. The story afterward was the first Florida Panthers win in Anaheim in six years.

Nick Bjugstad had two goals and two assists and Brad Boyes had two goals and an assist to lead Florida to a 6-2 win against Anaheim at Honda Center.

The Panthers opened their four-game road trip by routing the Western Conference's top team, which got back Perry, its leading goal-scorer, from a case of the mumps and right wing Kyle Palmieri from a high ankle sprain. Florida, which ranked 28th in the NHL in scoring entering Sunday, blew open the game with four second-period goals on the way to its first win in Anaheim since Nov. 9, 2008.

The line of Bjugstad, Boyes and Jonathan Huberdeau combined for nine points (five goals, four assists).

"The last game, we didn't have the greatest game," Bjugstad said. "We had a little talk together and made sure we were going. It's one of those games where everything was kind of clicking for everyone. We're working hard. Everyone was doing the little things. That was the difference."

The Ducks were coming off an intense home-and-home series with the Los Angeles Kings, including their franchise-record fifth straight overtime/shootout game Saturday, and have a Pacific Division matchup looming Tuesday against the Calgary Flames.

If the Ducks' minds were elsewhere, it showed with perhaps their worst defensive performance since the season-opening 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said the Kings games were a factor, but captain Ryan Getzlaf said the loss to the Panthers had nothing to do with Saturday or the trap-game scenario.

"Overall, we're just embarrassed," Getzlaf said. "It's embarrassing to play like that in our building. Top to bottom, we weren't very good tonight. We've got to recognize that within ourselves and get better. We have to learn."

Florida coach Gerard Gallant bluntly assessed the win.

"We caught them at a good time," he said. "Let's face it, they're a great team. They're leading the conference in points. But we played well. Give a lot of credit to our guys. We knew it was going to be a battle. They had a tough game yesterday. We caught them at the right time."

Boyes scored the first and fourth of the Panthers' second-period goals. Bjugstad and Huberdeau also scored in the second to help the Panthers reach a season-high five goals by second intermission.

Boyes scored his second on the power play with Perry off for unsportsmanlike conduct. His pass went off Anaheim defenseman Josh Manson and into the net at 17:19 for his fourth goal and a 5-1 Florida lead.

Huberdeau tipped in Aaron Ekblad's 60-foot snap shot at 10:07 of the second for a 4-1 advantage. He also set up Boyes' first goal of the game at 1:23 with an outlet pass and then the return pass.

Anaheim defensemen Cam Fowler and Clayton Stoner were a combined minus-7, and the top line of Getzlaf, Perry and Patrick Maroon was minus-5.

Perry, who had not played since Nov. 2, had two shots and was minus-2 in 18:57 in his return after missing five games. Palmieri, in his first game of the season, played 14:43 and had two shots.

"I felt all right," Perry said. "Actually, I felt better than I thought I was going to feel. Handling the puck was a different story, but the legs, lungs and body felt fine."

Boudreau started goalie Frederik Andersen for the second time in as many days. He pulled Andersen in favor of backup Jason LaBarbera after Andersen allowed three goals on nine shots, the last by Bjugstad, who fended off Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen and scored short side at 4:11 of the second. Andersen returned for the third period.

Boudreau said he was comfortable going with Andersen again, especially because it was more than 24 hours between games.

"My thought process is we had to see," Boudreau said. "There's going to be times when Freddie might have to go back-to-back. So here was a good time for him to do that."

Anaheim got caught sleeping at the start and Florida converted a 2-on-1 when Vincent Trocheck scored on a shot that popped the top off the water bottle at 4:40 of the first.

"We weren't ready, and it showed in the first period," Andersen said. "No one in this room was ready, starting from the net on out. That's unacceptable in this league, and we paid for it today."

Former Ducks Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu were in attendance.

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