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Ducks’ Penner finds a place

Time Staff Writer

From the lower levels of junior hockey through college and then onto the professional level, Dustin Penner has heard a familiar refrain.

“The knock against me when I first came in the door was I was a 6-foot-4 guy playing like he was 5-6,” Penner said. “Every coach that I’ve had has tried to mold me into the player I’ve become and hopefully I will become.”

Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle is the latest to cajole the 245-pound Penner to be what the organization projected when they signed him as a free agent -- a dominant power forward.

If the last seven days is any indicator, Penner is beginning to make good on that projection. The 24-year-old left wing has scored goals in each of the last four games and ranks second on the team with 24 goals.

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Both are team rookie records. Penner has done his work of late on a second scoring line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry after shuttling between lines for much of the season.

At the moment, Carlyle isn’t doing any more tinkering.

“We’ve looked all year to find somebody that we felt could complement Getzlaf and Perry,” Carlyle said. “For whatever reason, it didn’t work before but now it’s working. I’m dumb but not that dumb.”

The Ducks may have also had their scoring left wing all along even though they actively pursued one before the trade deadline. In his current hot streak, Penner’s five goals have all come from in front of the net by either redirecting shots or banging in rebounds.

“I’m playing a lot different game now than I was in my first and second year pro,” Penner said. “You have to find an area in the game to hang your hat on. Mine is down low, using my size and creating space for other players.”

Carlyle said Penner lately has been able to incorporate his skill set in tight areas.

“He can use his size and he has decent enough hands around the net as he’s displayed,” Carlyle said. “For whatever reason, he seems to have found that niche here in the last little while and we’re basically banking on him to continue to show that development.”

eric.stephens@latimes.com

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