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Ducks get Koivu back, roll over Flames

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- Now comes the hard part for the Anaheim Ducks.

Not much has really been easy lately for Anaheim, which is missing four of its top six defensemen and its co-No. 1 goalie and played a road-heavy schedule for the first two months.

It might not matter if the offense gets stronger like it did in a 5-2 win Friday afternoon against the Calgary Flames at Honda Center.

The Ducks got veteran center Saku Koivu back, and its top line provided the opening and finishing touches to set up a four-game stretch against the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.

"I think the word 'Looking forward to it' is not really the right word, quite frankly," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "But it is going to let us know where we are the next four games … it will give us a really good barometer of where we're at."

Anaheim did what was expected against an injury-depleted Calgary squad and remained the only NHL team without a regulation loss at home (10-0-1). The victory was as predictable as a Black Friday shopping spree: Anaheim extended its home winning streak against Calgary to 18 games, dating to Jan. 19, 2004.

Dustin Penner wasn't aware of the streak but said the win was needed, particularly after a 6-3 loss to the Dallas Stars in the previous game and with this tough-as-it-gets stretch coming up.

"We're going to get some confidence and take it into the next week," Penner said. "That's some pretty stiff competition, and we're going to need the team feeling as confident as possible."

Koivu got two assists in his first game back after he missed 15 with a concussion. He was reunited with Daniel Winnik and Andrew Cogliano and the line had a goal and four assists.

Winnik took a pass from Koivu and fed Cogliano for a backhand off a rush for a 4-1 lead 8:21 into the second period. Koivu's most impressive move of the game might have been a drive around Christopher Breen in the third. Koivu also won 11 of 18 faceoffs.

"I felt, physically, surprisingly good," Koivu said. "Coming back from a concussion, the first time for me, I was little hesitant in the first period. Then in the second half I felt a little more comfortable … you need a couple of games to see how you feel, but tonight I felt fine."

Boudreau mentioned the "comfort-ability" of the line and being able to put Winnik back on the wing. The coach first put the line together last season and it was arguably the Ducks' best two-way trio that feeds off the forecheck.

"It's fun to play with those two guys," Koivu said. "For an older guy like me (39), it's one of those things when you see two young guys buzzing around and putting the work in, there's no choice to join them. It's a fun line to be a part of."

The Penner-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry line had three goals and three assists. Penner tipped in Getzlaf's shot-pass for a 3-0 lead 3:52 into the second period and hammered home Getzlaf's pass to make it 5-2 at 11:26 of the third.

Getzlaf has points in nine straight games he's played (the streak was interrupted by a three-game injury absence) and is his longest string since an 11-game streak in November 2009. Penner's eighth and ninth goals represent his most since the 2010-11 season split between the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers (23).

Penner said before the season he felt he could get back to the 20-goal level.

"It's not like I've been doing anything different," Penner said. "I still have the mindset that I had the past few years. I'm getting more opportunity now."

Calgary played without rookie center Sean Monahan and defenseman Dennis Wideman. Monahan is week-to-week with a hairline fracture in his foot, and Wideman is out six to eight weeks with a broken hand.

Monahan, 19, is second among NHL rookies in scoring, and Wideman is sixth in the NHL in ice time. Each clearly was missed at the outset when the Flames were outshot 14-6 in the first period; it ended 42-21.

Calgary has been outscored 27-14 in the first period.

"A pretty weak start for us for the first period, once again," defenseman Ladislav Smid said. "The second period we played our game. We played our system and we scored some goals. We can't afford these kinds of first periods. We fall back and then you're trying to make it even. It causes you to [use too] much energy."

Anaheim's defensemen helped build a 2-0 lead. Sami Vatanen slapped the puck into an open net 12:20 into the first period after Calgary goalie Reto Berra got out of position trying to defend Cogliano. A little less than a minute later, Ben Lovejoy sent a low shot Perry redirected under Berra for his team-leading 14th goal.

"We had no answer for the Getzlaf-Perry and Penner line," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "Those guys basically dominated us the entire game. We got back after we scored the second goal and I felt we generated a little momentum, but that fifth goal put us back on our heels, and they are a big team and just grind it out."

Calgary got its goals in the second period from David Jones, who was credited with the first goal when he touched Smid's shot that trickled past Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen across the goal line at 5:51. Jones then took the puck from Koivu behind the net, spun around and fired it to the right side at 12:17 for an unassisted goal that made it 4-2.

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