1/24/97 -- 4:25 AM

Mighty Ducks-Coyotes

PHOENIX (AP) - The smallest of the Phoenix Coyotes was a major factor against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

Cliff Ronning scored two goals and badgered a pair of Anaheim players into penalties as Phoenix beat the Mighty Ducks 6-3 on Thursday night for the Coyotes' first home victory since Dec. 27.

``We worked hard the last three days, and hard work usually pays off this way,'' said Ronning, who has three goals and three assists in his last three games. ``We've been in a lot of games and found ways to lose them. Now we found a way to win one.''

Ronning's goal 17 seconds into the second period gave Phoenix a 3-1 lead, and he banked a shot off the right post at 19:06 of the period to give the Coyotes a 5-3 lead after two periods.

Between the goals, the 5-foot-8 center slashed Teemu Selanne, Anaheim's leading scorer in the left knee, and drew a cross-checking penalty against Selanne when he retaliated by breaking his stick over Ronning's back.

``He slashed me first and then I retaliated,'' Ronning said. ``I'm not a dirty player.''

Ronning also goaded David Karpa into a misconduct penalty.

The Coyotes, winning only their second of their last six games, also got goals from Craig Janney and Norm Maciver, who underwent neck surgery Nov. 22. It was the first since Nov. 16 for Janney, who has been scratched from the lineup repeatedly in recent weeks.

Mike Gartner added his 684th goal, and Keith Tkachuk added an empty-net score for his 30th of the season and his 18th in Phoenix's last 17 games. Oleg Tverdovsky added a career-high four assists for the Coyotes, who converted a season high three-of-five power-play opportunities.

``We just didn't play a very good game,'' said Paul Kariya, who accounted for all of the Mighty Ducks scoring with his second career three-goal game. ``We played horribly defensively.''

Nikolai Khabibulin made 31 saves for the Coyotes.

``We didn't give up a lot of second and third opportunities, and Nik did a good job of shutting them down. That's the way we have to play all the time,'' said Phoenix coach Don Hay, who drilled his players in the fundamentals during a three-day midseason training camp earlier this week.

Anaheim goalie Guy Hebert stopped 16 of 20 shots before he was pulled in favor of Mikhail Shtalenkov following Maciver's goal at 8:40 of the second period. Shtalenkov finished with 11 saves for the Mighty Ducks, who have lost all three meetings with Phoenix this season.

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