In response to Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen's lower-body injury suffered in the third period of Anaheim's Game 3 victory over the Kings, rookie goalie John Gibson is expected to be called up from minor-league Norfolk, Va., on Friday.
The promotion might not simply be a precautionary move that will keep him planted on the bench for Game 4 on Saturday night at Staples Center.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau was asked Friday whether hockey tradition suggests there's no way he should put a kid in the net for Game 4 — down a game in the Western Conference semifinals, on the road, against a team that won the Stanley Cup two years ago.
"There's no way … " Boudreau said in a voice to accentuate that it is indeed possible. "He's always an option if he's called up. We'll see."
First, Boudreau said, he had to await a medical evaluation of Andersen, who underwent treatment Friday but did not skate. If Andersen is cleared and is pain-free Saturday morning, he appears to be the top choice to start after his 22-save showing in Thursday's 3-2 victory.
If it's a choice between Gibson and Jonas Hiller — who lost Games 1 and 2 before preserving Game 3 by stopping seven of eight shots — it is not seen as an automatic to go with the veteran.
Gibson's talent and grace under pressure shined in his late-season call-up when he helped the Ducks clinch the Pacific Division title and conference's No. 1 seeding.
The 20-year-old — who led Team USA to the World Junior gold medal and a bronze in the World Championships — went 3-0 last month when Andersen was injured and then-starter Hiller was staggering through a three-game losing streak.
Gibson gained a road shutout at Vancouver in his NHL debut as the Ducks played their best defensive game of the season, allowing just 18 shots on goal. He then stopped 36 shots in the division-clinching home win over the San Jose Sharks on April 9, and won again in the overtime season finale against second-seeded Colorado.
In addition to Andersen, Ducks forward Matt Beleskey and center Mathieu Perreault suffered lower-body injuries in Game 3. Boudreau said Beleskey — with three goals in eight games against the Kings this season — is questionable because of some required medical tests and Perreault would be assessed at Saturday's morning skate.
If Beleskey can't go, one option would be to shift forward Jakob Silfverberg to the first line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and then replace Silfverberg with defensive-minded Daniel Winnik alongside Andrew Cogliano and Saku Koivu. Rookie Rickard Rakell would be Perreault's expected replacement.
"The depth is what's gotten us to where we are," Boudreau said. "[From November] to the first games of the playoffs, we've changed lines a lot. I don't think the players will miss a beat."
First to strike
The Ducks' interest in scoring the game's first goal is "huge," Perry said after doing the trick Thursday against the Kings, who gave up the fewest goals in the NHL during the regular season.
"We talk every day about doing things first … whether it's the first faceoff, first hit or first shot, you want to be the one to do it," Perry said. "It's huge for confidence, momentum, all those things you want … a lift."