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What we learned from the Ducks' 2-1 win over Pittsburgh

What we learned from the Ducks' 2-1 win over Pittsburgh
The Ducks' Nate Thompson, left, and Mike Santorelli exult after teammate Chris Stewart's decisive goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period. (Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

Back-to-back wins were a Sisyphean task for the Ducks for the past month. Four times they failed to achieve it before a 2-1 win Sunday against Pittsburgh.

With their offense a work in progress, their identity has become that of a defense-first team that grinds out wins, at least in the past two games.

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Here's what we learned:

The fourth line has earned its keep. For the second straight game, the Ducks got the game-winning goal from their fourth line. Chris Stewart is tied for third on the Ducks with five goals after his second-period score, two days after linemate Mike Santorelli scored in a 1-0 win against San Jose. 

"We've been giving the team energy and really working on our D-zone, and when you do that, good things happen," Stewart said.

Nate Thompson assisted Stewart and again saw time with Ryan Kesler’s line.

"When the fourth line is playing the way it is right now, then you've got an added weapon," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I have no fear of putting them out. … It's good to see them gaining confidence every time they step on the ice."

The Ducks weren’t rattled by a disallowed goal. Rickard Rakell’s power-play goal was taken off the board by an offside call on a Pittsburgh coach’s challenge. It could have been a turning point but the Ducks moved on and outscored the Penguins 2-0 in the second period -- typically their worst period.

"I thought we did pretty good responding," Ryan Getzlaf said. "We went out and finished our power play. We added a couple of chances. We didn't score but we didn't panic, either, so that's a big thing."

Frederik Andersen is getting well. Andersen backed up goalie John Gibson. It was the first time he dressed for a game since Nov. 21, after which he was out with flu.

The Ducks don't play again until Friday, so Andersen will have gone at least three weeks between games. Gibson remains hot, and the Ducks have no reason to go away from him. But how long do they want Andersen to sit?

Stay tuned.

Follow Curtis Zupke on Twitter @CurtisZupke

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