“Go with (John) Gibson. Can’t be any worse than (Jonas) Hiller of late.”
I was right.
The Ducks went with Gibson, who made his NHL debut against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night. He not only got the win and two points for Anaheim, he got a 3-0 shutout. At age 20, that makes him the youngest goaltender to get a shutout in his debut since Darren Puppa did it 29 years ago.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the guys,” said Gibson. “They played really well in front of me, and made my job easy. I just had to keep the puck out, and make the routine saves.”
Gibson made 18 saves in his debut and the defense in front of him stepped up to block another 22 shots.
Daniel Winnik got the game winning goal at 6:26 of the first period, a short handed tally, which seemed to be a foretelling for Canucks fans about how the game would go for them.
Kyle Palmieri scored in the second period, negating any momentum that Vancouver had been building up. Corey Perry was in a generous mood, passing to Matt Beleskey in the third period to give Beleskey #7 on the season.
The third goal sealed the deal for Anaheim and prompted Vancouver fans to call for GM Mike Gillis’ head on a platter. They got their wish when Gillis was fired on Tuesday morning, the day after Vancouver was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Could coach John Tortorella be too far behind?
As for the Ducks, they now have 110 points, three ahead of San Jose in the Pacific Division. Who do the Ducks play on Wednesday? San Jose.
“On paper, it sounds really good,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “But the fact we play San Jose the next game, L.A. the next game after that, and Colorado, it’s not going to be an easy thing. We’ve got to play a lot like we played tonight if we want to have success on Wednesday and beyond.”
A win against the Sharks will clinch the Pacific for Anaheim.
The question now becomes, who do you start? The slumping Hiller, who is 6-9-3, or a pretty terrific guy who was rated as the #2 prospect (and justifiably so)?
Gibson already sounded like a pro when conceding that decision to higher ups. “That’s not up to me.”
Whoever they decide to go with on Wednesday, if the Ducks play a complete, solid team game like they did on Monday, chances are good for a win.