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Maroon scores his first to lift Ducks past Coyotes

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- It took a fluky gaffe and a fat rebound for the Anaheim Ducks to get a 2-1 win against Mike Smith and the Arizona Coyotes at Honda Center on Sunday.

Kyle Palmieri capitalized on a Smith misstep and Patrick Maroon scored his first goal of the season. The Ducks (13-4-5) got a strong game from the line of Palmieri, Maroon and Ryan Kesler, who had two assists.

Anaheim has earned at least a point in 10 of its past 11 games (5-1-5).

Maroon was named first star of the game and was its feel-good story. The 26-year-old left wing missed eight games earlier this season because of a sprained knee, and had numerous chances during stretches spent playing on the Ducks' top line.

Maroon looked at it as a first step.

"I've had high hopes for me this season; [I] try and contribute as much as I can," he said. "I haven't been playing that good. It's just one game for me. I've got to continue that. It just can't be one and done. I'm a big guy, and it goes noticed if I don't have a good game."

Smith made 28 saves to keep it a close game for the Coyotes (9-11-2), who defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Saturday. The loss Sunday was Arizona's second to a Pacific Division opponent (6-2-0).

The Coyotes had 10 shots through 40 minutes, but pulled to within a goal on Keith Yandle's one-timer from the slot at 8:56 of the third period. They got a 6-on-4 advantage with 40.2 seconds left when Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin was called for cross-checking, but the Ducks cleared the puck twice.

Smith was blunt in grading the Coyotes' performance.

"We played the first two periods like we expected to be tired," Smith said. "You've got to push through that. Tired is a bad excuse. A lot of teams in this league are tired. We've played the least back-to-back games of any team in this league. The first two periods we played like we felt tired instead of going after it. Third period was an indication that we weren't that tired."

Goalie Frederik Andersen helped the Ducks withstand the Coyotes' big push in the third, when he made 17 of his 26 saves. Andersen had allowed three or more goals in each of his previous five games. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau called it "the first real Freddie performance" of the season.

"This was a good confidence boost for him," Boudreau said.

Maroon slammed home a rebound of Sami Vatanen's shot from the slot at 17:20 of the second for a 2-0 Ducks lead. It was his first goal since April 13.

Palmieri scored after Smith fell behind the Arizona net trying to stop Palmieri's dump-in. Kesler grabbed the loose puck and sent a blind pass to the slot that went off Coyotes forward Joe Vitale's stick to Palmieri, who easily scored into the empty net at 14:08.

"Caught a rut in the ice, and you guys saw the rest," Smith said.

Palmieri has two goals in four games after he missed the first 18 games because of a high ankle sprain.

"Definitely a lucky one, but I'll take it," Palmieri said. "He was playing the puck and obviously he's very good (at handling the puck). Everyone in the League knows that. … We wanted to keep it away from him, and actually that was not a great dump by me. I put it right on his tape. But, hey, it worked out, and it was a big goal for us."

Arizona had three shots through the first 17 minutes of the second period, and no serious scoring chances. The Coyotes had a total of six shots in the second.

Smith kept Arizona afloat in the first period, when the Ducks dominated territorially and outshot the Coyotes 12-4. He made a shoulder save on Kesler's rising backhand from the slot late in the first.

"They were dominating us and the only reason it wasn't 3- or 4-0 after the first was because of [Smith]," Yandle said. "He made huge saves, timely saves. To get out of that period was one of things that we should have recognized that we needed to be better."

Left wing Rene Bourque made his Ducks debut and played on a line with Rickard Rakell and Devante Smith-Pelly. He had three shots and three hits.

Anaheim played without defenseman Clayton Stoner, who was held out because of "mild mumps-like symptoms," the Ducks said. Defenseman Mat Clark played his first game since Nov. 9.

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