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Anaheim Ducks eager to build on rare fast start

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm •  Published: January 24, 2013

Anaheim was the NHL's fifth-best team after Jan. 1 last year, going 24-15-6, but missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons after falling into that huge hole. The Ducks entered this lockout-shortened season determined not to repeat their slow start, but the extra pressure hasn't hurt so far.

"I'm not really surprised, because I think we knew we had a really good team," said goalie Jonas Hiller, who has allowed just three even-strength goals in two games. "Last year, we were one of the league's best teams in the second half. Now we've just got to show it all year long."

While 42-year-old Teemu Selanne already has added two more goals to the 12th-biggest total in NHL history, Anaheim's real scoring star is Winnik, the first player in Ducks history to start a season with multigoal games, getting two apiece in Vancouver and Calgary.

"I don't think any player really scripts it that way," Winnik said.

Winnik entered Thursday tied with Marian Hossa and Patrick Marleau for the NHL goal-scoring lead. He was even with those two stars, along with Thomas Vanek and Martin St. Louis, with five points atop the league scoring race. It's unlikely territory for a former ninth-round draft pick who never scored more than 11 goals in any of his first five NHL seasons with Phoenix, Colorado and San Jose.

Winnik and his third-line teammates, Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano, also began the day leading the league with plus-5 ratings. Winnik and Cogliano have the same agent, and they train together in their native Toronto in the offseason, but Boudreau put them together because he thought their games would mesh well.

"It's been a really easy group to gel with," Winnik said. "It's a very welcoming room. We've got a good mix of younger guys and older guys, and we're just looking to build on what we've done so far."