by greg beacham ap sports writer
For the first 8 minutes of the Ducks' return to Anaheim, coach Bruce Boudreau thought he saw the residual effects of an eight-game, 15-day road trip.
For the rest of the night, the Ducks dug deep — and demonstrated why they're on top of the NHL.
Hampus Lindholm scored his first career goal, Corey Perry got the tiebreaking goal right before the second-period buzzer, and the Ducks stayed perfect at home with a 5-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday.
Ryan Getzlaf, Lindholm and Cam Fowler each had a goal and an assist in Anaheim's triumphant return from a 5-2-1 road trip. With six wins in their last seven games, the Ducks (13-3-1) lead the league with 27 points despite playing alongside Phoenix and San Jose in the competitive Pacific Division.
"It didn't look like we had a lot of energy or jump (early)," Boudreau said. "Then it seemed like it all kicked in again."
Shane Doan put the Coyotes ahead in the opening minutes, but the Ducks eventually responded with the same aggressive play and balanced goal-scoring they've used to climb up the standings — and the NHL's worst power play even chipped in twice.
"We knew tonight was going to be difficult, but we can't use being tired as an excuse for not doing what we have to do," said Perry, fourth in the NHL with 10 goals. "We learned a lot from the way we started last year, and we have to continue to do what we did."
Even with largely awful special-teams play, the Ducks are off to their second straight outstanding start under Boudreau after opening 22-3-4 last winter. Anaheim moved to the top of the league table this season amid a brutal schedule that includes yet another East Coast road trip after the current three-game homestand.
The Ducks are 6-0 at Honda Center, maintaining the only perfect home record in the NHL.
"We were definitely treating this game with tons of importance," said Fowler, who matched his goal total from last season. "We knew the type of roll Phoenix was on, and it seems like nobody seems to be losing in our division right now. We understood how important these two points were."
Perry tipped home Lindholm's shot during a delayed penalty with 1.1 seconds left in the period, and Fowler provided a cushion with the second man-advantage goal of the night for the Ducks, whose power play had scored just four times all season.
Jonas Hiller made 24 saves for the Ducks, and Andrew Cogliano added an empty-net goal with 1:02 to play while limping to the bench after Doan leveled him with a big hit along the far boards.
Michael Stone scored a power-play goal for the Coyotes, who had won five straight. Mike Smith stopped 24 shots, but Phoenix failed to earn a point for just the second time in 14 games.
"We were in a back-to-back, and they were coming off a long road trip, so it was a pretty even playing field," said Doan, who has five goals in his last seven games. "But we know we gave it to them."
After Doan's early goal in his 1,262nd regular-season game, Lindholm evened it in his 15th NHL game. The 19-year-old rookie defenseman, whose surprising emergence has catalyzed Anaheim's fast start, converted a pass from Mathieu Perreault in the slot.
After Stone put Phoenix back ahead, Getzlaf evened it moments later with a shot off Martin Hanzal's stick during a two-man advantage for his seventh goal. Anaheim's power play went 1 for 28 on the road trip.
Perry then put the Ducks ahead in the waning seconds, lightly deflecting Lindholm's shot from the blue line.
"You can't win a game in this league if you're going to turn the puck over and be undisciplined," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We knew it was going to be a hard game, and it was a good test for our team to see how we'd react. When you're chasing in the game — especially when you're playing back-to-backs — you look tired. But we just didn't play smart enough or execute well enough."
Teemu Selanne returned to the Ducks ahead of schedule after missing the final three games of the trip for oral surgery. The Finnish Flash, who was expected to be out for two weeks, lost four teeth and needed 40 stitches after taking an inadvertent high stick from Philadelphia's Luke Schenn.
Phoenix played without defenseman Derek Morris, who incurred a lower-body injury in Tuesday's win over Vancouver. The Coyotes then lost right wing Radim Vrbata to a lower-body injury during the game.
NOTES: Anaheim D Luca Sbisa played his second game of the season after missing the first five weeks with an injury. ... Phoenix D David Schlemko missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Sami Vatanen, who has the only other goal by a Ducks defenseman this season, was scratched.