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Ducks finally solve Coyotes in 2-0 win

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM – No blown leads tripped up the Anaheim Ducks this time. They finally completed this trilogy on a high note.

Anaheim tightened up its neutral zone play and gave the Phoenix Coyotes little to work with in a heavy contrast to the wildly played previous two meetings. Basic, responsible defense backstopped by Jonas Hiller and the reuniting of the top line produced a 2-0 victory Wednesday night.

"We came out and played the game we wanted to," said captain Ryan Getzlaf, who added an empty netter. "That was a lot better defensive effort shutting them down, and goaltending played great and didn't allow any second chances."

Corey Perry scored in the first period and Hiller stopped 18 shots for his 16th career shutout as the Ducks won their ninth in a row at home, two shy of the club record. Anaheim's 16-3-3 mark is the franchise's best ever through 22 games.

It was the third consecutive Ducks-Coyotes game in five days, a first in Ducks history. Both previous meetings in Glendale, Ariz., were 5-4 shootout wins by Phoenix in which the goals were scored in the exact same sequence, as the Ducks blew leads of 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3 in each game.

Both teams cited the need to limit turnovers and control the transition areas, and the Ducks did their homework a little better.

Phoenix went the first 9:34 of the game without a shot on goal and was outshot 21-12 through 48 minutes, even though it had three of the game's four power plays. The Coyotes failed to register a shot on any of the advantages, including a third-period interference call on Sheldon Souray.

"We didn't compete hard enough," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "They were more determined team defensively and we didn't have enough guys compete hard enough to get inside and create chances instead of just around the fringes. We didn't work to get shots through and when we did, there were too many blocked shots and too many missed shots."

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau reunited the big line of Perry, Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, and it paid dividends right away with Perry's seventh goal at 7:10. Getzlaf grabbed a pass by Derek Morris in the neutral zone and got it to Ryan. Perry took Ryan's pass while he moved left-to-right across the slot and slid the puck in as he fell down.

"We got the band back together," said Getzlaf of his line, one of the more potent in the National Hockey League the past few seasons. "It felt good out there. Bobby, I thought, played really well tonight. He did a lot of things that made him the player he is. It was easy for us to play together."

Boudreau had put the line together briefly earlier but he tends to experiment freely in the name of balance. Asked if he is tempted to keep Ryan up with Getzlaf and Perry, Boudreau said, "I'll have to put all the names in a hat again and see what pops out."

The Ducks took that 1-0 lead into the third period, but it could easily have been 4-0 if not for Jason LaBarbera and a little luck that prevented a Perry hat trick.

LaBarbera closed his pads just in time to deny Andrew Cogliano on a penalty shot after Cogliano was pulled down by Oliver Ekman-Larsson on a breakaway. Minutes later Perry had LaBarbera beat on an outstretched move across the crease but his shot rang off the crossbar. Perry was denied again on a 2-on-1 with Ryan in the waning seconds of the period as LaBarbera got his right leg down.

It wasn't the ideal scenario for LaBarbera to be thrown into in his first start since Jan. 26, but he stopped 23 of 24 shots.

"It feels good, for sure," LaBarbera said. "You put in the work and you put in the time and you wait and wait and wait. I felt I played well, but we obviously didn't' get the win, so that part's frustrating."

Radim Vrbata was scratched for the eighth straight game with a lower-body injury.

Despite its winning ways, Anaheim is still 10 points back of the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference. The Ducks host Chicago on March 20.

"It's a pretty amazing feat," Getzlaf said. "They're playing well. That's good. They deserve a lot of credit. They're doing things the right way. At the same time, we just worry about ourselves."

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