Gibson makes 18 saves in debut, Ducks down Canucks
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) John Gibson put an end to Vancouver’s playoff hopes with a perfect start to his career.
The 20-year-old goalie made 18 saves to earn a shutout in his NHL debut, and the Anaheim Ducks eliminated the listless Canucks from postseason contention with a 3-0 victory Monday night.
”The team played really well in front of me and made my job easier. I only had to make regular saves and if there was rebounds, they cleared it out,” said Gibson, the youngest goalie with a shutout in his first NHL start since Daren Puppa in 1985. ”Everyone knew it was a big game.”
Daniel Winnik, Kyle Palmieri and Matt Beleskey scored for Anaheim, which is three points ahead of San Jose for first place in the Pacific Division.
Gibson, who led the United States to a gold medal at the 2013 world junior hockey championship, wasn’t tested much but made a huge save on Niklas Jensen to preserve the shutout with about eight minutes gone in the third period.
”He looked so much more calm than a 20-year-old kid playing his first NHL game,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. ”It was like, ho hum. After my first game when I scored a goal, you couldn’t shut me up. I was so happy I was jumping up and down, and he was just, ah, here we go again.
”I think it’s a demeanor that a goalie has to have.”
Eddie Lack stopped 20 shots in his 19th straight start for Vancouver since the Olympic break.
The Canucks had made five straight playoff appearances – including a loss to Boston in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals three years ago.
”Not a very good feeling,” defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. ”Not too familiar. It’s been a while. We’re disappointed for sure. The last few weeks have been very disappointing.”
The lower bowl at Rogers Arena was dotted with hundreds of empty seats throughout the game, and many of the fans who did show up started heading to the exits long before the final horn.
The night ended with some in the half-empty building chanting for Canucks president and general manager Mike Gillis to be fired. Bieksa said the players heard the chants with the clock winding down.
”Personally, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do, but at the end of the day the fans come and they can do whatever they want,” he said. ”Put it this way: We’re all going to take the blame for this. It’s not just one or two guys. It’s the whole team. We’re going to take what we get, move forward, push through this.”
Lack stopped Andrew Cogliano on a breakaway 15 seconds into the first period after he stripped defenseman Jason Garrison of the puck, but the Canucks goalie couldn’t bail out his team a second time after another gaffe a few minutes later.
With Vancouver on the power play, Winnik jumped on a mistake by Canucks captain Henrik Sedin and moved in alone to rip his sixth of the season over Lack’s blocker at 6:26.
Vancouver had a couple of chances later in the man advantage, including a scramble in front of Gibson that saw the puck dribble off the post and stay out. Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler then took another shot off the iron that fooled Gibson, seen by many as Anaheim’s goalie of the future.
Anaheim grabbed a 2-0 lead at 17:03 of the second period when Palmieri deflected a point shot past Lack for his 14th goal of the season.
Vancouver had nine shots to Anaheim’s 18 through two periods and there was a smattering of boos as players left the ice for intermission.
”It doesn’t do anybody any good right now to be critical,” Canucks coach John Tortorella said. ”Obviously we didn’t play well enough, but I’m not going to criticize the hockey club at this stage.”
Anaheim made it 3-0 just 1:20 into the third when Beleskey finished off a pretty passing play with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf for his seventh of the season.
”We keep preparing as we always do until the season’s done,” Tortorella said. ”Obviously we’re out of the playoffs now, but I still believe you go about your business until the last day of work and that’s how we’re going to approach it and I believe the team will, too.”
NOTES: The game marked Teemu Selanne’s final visit to Vancouver as a player. Set to retire after the postseason, the 43-year-old has said repeatedly that the city is his favorite stop in the NHL. The Canucks honored Selanne with a brief scoreboard tribute in the first period. … The Ducks are 10-1-2 in the second of back-to-back games this season, including two wins against the Canucks. … Anaheim has 110 points, tying a franchise record set in 2006-07 when the club won its only Stanley Cup.