-- The Anaheim Ducks
have seemed to lack a certain drive for most of this season. They have failed to play as if their future depended on it and have not shown the desperation that coaches want to see.
On Wednesday night they found it in the form of Niklas Hagman
, Kyle Palmieri
and Rod Pelley
All three have been deemed disposable at some point this season, but they all scored to lead Anaheim to a 4-1 victory against the Phoenix Coyotes
Hagman had a pair of second-period goals as the Ducks won for only the second time in six games under new coach Bruce Boudreau. Pelley opened the scoring with a goal in his first game as a Duck, and Palmieri, who did not make it past the second round of cuts in training camp, got his second NHL goal on a tip-in to complete the scoring 3:30 into the third.
"This was the hardest I've seen a team work this year that I've been coaching, and that includes the Capitals," said Boudreau, who was hired two days after being fired in Washington. "It was fun to watch."
It was the first time Anaheim scored more than three goals since former coach Randy Carlyle's last game, a 4-1 win against Washington on Nov. 30.
"Great job for our third and fourth lines," said defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky
, who gave the Ducks a big lift on offense and defense in his return from a broken finger that kept him out for more than a month.
"If we play like this every game, we'll be better."
Hagman was claimed off re-entry waivers on Nov. 14 after 29 teams passed on him when Calgary reassigned him to the AHL, but he made the most of his second game playing with Ryan Getzlaf
and Corey Perry
"As a line, in practice, we tried to find each other a little bit better, and I felt today a couple of times we found each other well," said Hagman, who recorded his first multigoal game since April 10, 2010. "I've known all the time that I can score goals and that I can play. It's nice to get a little bit of a reward.
"Obviously there has been really tough times when you're not playing a lot. You're playing seven or eight minutes a game. You feel like there's no faith in you. You've just go to believe. I've tried to work hard all the time and do things well in practice and eventually it will happen."
Hagman rammed home Perry's rebound 67 seconds into the second period with Adrian Aucoin
in the penalty box for tripping to put the Ducks ahead 2-0.
His second goal came on a give-and-go with Perry. Hagman dashed to the front of the net, took Perry's pass off his skate and backhanded it under Mike Smith
's glove hand with 1:04 remaining in the period for a 3-1 lead.
Pelley, acquired Tuesday from New Jersey, made his Anaheim debut memorable with an impressive goal 15:48 into the game. After Maxime Macenauer
fed him a pass off the boards, Pelley went around Aucoin on the left side and wristed it five-hole through Smith to open the scoring.
A fourth-line center who seldom played in New Jersey, Pelley was acquired in a trade that was made largely so Anaheim could move defenseman Kurtis Foster. It was Pelley's first goal since Jan. 17, a span of 36 games.
"I knew I hadn't played in a while and I was going to be excited to play tonight," Pelley said. "It was a big relief for me."
Visnovsky picked up an assist on Pelley's goal. He played a game-high 24:23 and had a team-high seven shots on goal with four blocked shots. He also made a great lead pass to spring Getzlaf in the second and swatted away Mikkel Boedker
's chip-in attempt in the third.
"It felt like my first game this season," Visnovsky said. "I was a little bit nervous the first shift. The first power play I felt much better. Every shift I was more confident with the puck."
The return of the NHL's highest-scoring defenseman last season made a difference.
"You could tell he was sorely missed," Boudreau said. "You look at the team's record when he was out (2-9-2). He's a dynamic player. When he's in, it gives you another advantage. You don't have to play Cam (Fowler) 26 minutes."
Phoenix spent long sequences in Anaheim's end for much of the second period but only got a power-play goal on a coverage breakdown by the Ducks, who let Martin Hanzal
go uncontested to the net to put away Ray Whitney
The Coyotes were held to 20 shots, their second-lowest total this season, and have dropped five of seven.
Phoenix was coming off its first full back-to-back practices in nearly two weeks because of travel but something was amiss. Smith and captain Shane Doan
were the only Coyotes still sitting at their lockers 15 minutes after the game.
"I think Shane summed it up pretty well, saying we lacked emotion on an everyday basis, every shift," Smith said. "I think that's a big part of it. I think we've been a good team this year, bouncing back after losses, but we're in a stretch right now where it seems like it is a little harder to do that."
Coach Dave Tippett pointed to taking three penalties in the first period and lamented Hagman's second goal.
"To give up one late in the second period, that's a big goal for us," Tippett said. "We felt like we carried some of the momentum from the second period, had some decent chances and to give up that late goal in the second period -- we then have a long way back in the third period."
To make room for Visnovsky's activation, Anaheim placed Saku Koivu
(lower body) on injured reserve although it is retroactive to Dec. 8.