ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) _ Vaclav Prospal is finally displaying the form that
made him so attractive to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks after they lost Paul Kariya
to free agency last summer.
Prospal scored his 10th goal in 11 games for the winner and added three
assists on Wednesday night as the Ducks returned from the All-Star break with a
5-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.
``Vinny Prospal's really come to life. He's making great plays and feeling
really good about himself,'' Anaheim coach Mike Babcock said.
Prospal tied a career high with 22 goals last season for the Tampa Bay
Lightning and led them with 79 points. He expected the same with Anaheim after
signing a five-year, $16.5 million contract on July 17.
But it took him a while to get acclimated, and he produced only six goals in
his first 45 games. He triggered his recent scoring binge with the winning goal
on Jan. 17 at Vancouver.
``I never thought it was going to be like that,'' Prospal said of his slow
start. ``I thought the points would come like they did last year and the year
before, but it didn't happen. It was very frustrating, but you just hope you
get out of it. I wasn't the only guy who wasn't scoring. There were a lot of
guys _ and key guys _ who weren't getting a lot of goals and points.''
Rookie Joffrey Lupul and Petr Sykora each had a goal and an assist, and
Steve Rucchin had three assists for the Ducks. Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 22
saves for only his second victory in his last 10 starts.
Niclas Havelid and Sergei Fedorov scored power-play goals less than two
minutes apart in the first period against Phoenix's Brian Boucher, who stopped
23 shots in his first game since Monday's trade of goaltender Sean Burke to
Philadelphia. Boucher is 2-5-2 in nine starts following his record-breaking
shutout streak, and has allowed three or more goals seven times during that
``Obviously he's disappointed about giving up five goals, and he'd tell you
that he was disappointed with his play. But that wasn't him,'' Phoenix captain
Shane Doan said. ``They had some rebounds and beat our guys to some loose pucks
after he made the first save. We kind of hung Booch out to dry.''
The Ducks won consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 29-31, only
their third set of back-to-back victories since a season-high three-game
winning streak Nov. 11-16.
Phoenix defenseman Cale Hulse ended a 33-game scoring drought with a
power-play goal. Jeff Taffe scored for the first time in 22 games, but the
Coyotes' winless streak was extended to seven (0-5-1-1) and their losing skid
to four. Brian Savage also scored, and Mike Comrie, acquired for Burke, had two
assists in his Coyotes debut.
``I'm thrilled to be here,'' said Comrie. ``It's a great group with some
good young players, and I feel like I really fit in here.''
Savage tied the score at 3 midway in the second period with his 11th goal,
converting a centering pass from Comrie after Doan deflected an attempted
clearing pass with his stick.
But the Ducks took the lead for the third time in the game as Prospal scored
after Ossi Vaananen dived to block Lupul's short backhander. Sykora made it 5-3
on a wraparound, and the Coyotes weren't able to rally a third time.
``I think we showed a little bit of a heartbeat tonight, but it wasn't good
enough,'' Doan said. ``Once you get back in the game, you shouldn't have to do
it again and again. You have to have a little bit more urgency and be ready to
go that next shift.''
Fedorov put Anaheim ahead 2-1 in the first period with a one-timer from the
right circle on a power play. The goal put him within two points of becoming
the first Russian-born player with 1,000 points in the NHL, and the 67th player
Mike Leclerc returned to the Anaheim lineup following arthroscopic surgery
on his left knee during the offseason. Leclerc was pivotal to the Ducks'
success during last year's playoffs, scoring the winning goal or assisting on
it in five consecutive Anaheim victories.
``Obviously, it's been a while since he's played, but he looked pretty
good,'' Giguere said. ``We're sure glad to have him back. He makes the team
much stronger up front and he really helps us with those battles in the