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The Warriors, without eight of their first-team squad through injury, scored four tries to two to put a dampener on the 41st birthday celebrations of Vikings coach Neil Kelly.
However, Kelly will have been encouraged by a vastly-improved performance on last week's 34-6 humiliation at Warrington.
Acting captain Adrian Lam led Wigan brilliantly as they established a 10-4 interval lead while hooker Terry Newton was the hero of the second half by scoring one try and creating another as the Warriors made light of a third game in nine days.
Widnes led 4-0 after 14 minutes after former Wigan playmaker Julian O'Neill converted two of three penalty shots at goal to give them hope of a first league win over Wigan for 13 years.
Paul Johnson, switched to stand-off in the absence of the injured Sean O'Loughlin, was twice pulled up for high tackles as Wigan made a shaky start.
But a flash of brilliance from scrum-half Lam turned the game the visitors' way on 17 minutes. He demonstrated electrifying pace to go past Widnes centre Adam Hughes and winger Brian Carney was in support to touch down.
Danny Tickle's successful conversion edged Wigan in front and they extended their lead on 36 minutes when Lam evaded a charge out of the defensive line by Hughes and Tickle got centre Martin Aspinwall stretching out for the line.
Wigan missed another glorious tryscoring opportunity in injury time when second rower Gareth Hock supported a Lam break but saw the final pass go straight to Widnes substitute Paul Alcock.
Lam clearly anticipated a Vikings fightback as he attempted a drop goal in the early stages of the second half and it duly came.
Full-back Paul Atcheson, introduced as a 35th-minute substitute for a limping Stuart Spruce, took skipper Ryan Sheridan's long pass and cleverly drew the defence before to give Hughes a clear run to the line.
O'Neill levelled the scores with the conversion and edged his side back in front on 56 minutes but the lead lasted only five minutes, although there was an element of luck about Wigan's third try.
Widnes centre Jason Demetriou lost the ball trying to clear the danger and hooker Terry Newton reacted quickly to get winger Jamie Ainscough racing unopposed down the wing.
Tickle missed his second conversion but made amends with a 60th-minute penalty after Vikings hooker Shane Millard was pulled up for holding down Newton in the tackle.
Widnes might have snatched it had Demetriou been able to take Alcock's pass with the line open but Newton burrowed his way over for a fourth Wigan try on 76 minutes and Tickle put over his third goal.
The Vikings at least had the final say in stoppage time when the hard-working Millward was rewarded with a consolation try, to which O'Neill added his fifth goal from six attempts.