The Ducks’ No. 1 goaltender was in the crease — sporting a new mask design highlighted by the club’s original logo — Friday night at Honda Center for a 4-2 victory over the Kings, but when John Gibson gave way 12 minutes into the second period, the crowd applauded.
That was for the man replacing Gibson, newly minted backup Ryan Miller, the former Vezina Trophy winner being counted on to provide an upgrade as No. 2 man in net.
Miller comes to Southern California after three seasons in Vancouver, and at 37, the longtime starter must adjust to new surroundings and a new role.
“I have to kind of let everybody know what’s going on and kind of feel out where I fit in,” said Miller, who allowed one goal in 13 shots in his Ducks debut. “These guys here have their rituals and their things and I’m certainly not going to get in the way.”
He doesn’t need to ruffle any feathers to do what’s being asked, and that’s to become a steadying presence behind the oft-injured Gibson.
The 24-year-old allowed one goal in 11 shots; the lone score came on a rebound in the first period.
In his first full season as the starter, Gibson posted solid numbers with a 2.22 goals-against average to go along with a .924 save percentage, but he also withstood long stretches of inconsistency.
Gibson did enjoy an incredible seven-week stretch with a 1.82 goals-against average and four shutouts before he suffered a lower-body injury.
He’ll need to stay healthy — and figures to play even better if he does as he continues to develop — if the Ducks are to stay the course with several early-season key injuries.
But if Gibson must labor through more ailments, at least the Ducks have a more experienced and reliable backup.
Rakell, Silfverberg shine against Kings
The Ducks’ Swedish stalwarts recorded their first points of the preseason — after being kept off the scoresheet Tuesday — on a power-play goal in the second period.
Jakob Silfverberg found a waiting Rickard Rakell with a nifty pass that he slid into the empty net to tie the score at 1.
Rakell, moving over from left wing, is now the team’s No. 2 center in Ryan Kesler’s absence, and will be counted on to improve upon his breakout season (33 goals, 51 points).
Silfverberg later picked up another assist, and Rakell was there with front-net presence and the screen. Silfverberg later sealed the deal with an empty-netter off a steal.
Prust is trying to impress
Brandon Prust was a long way from the NHL last season. He suited up for the Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers Nurnberg of Germany’s Deutsche Eishockey League.
It was a collection of European and fringe NHL players tucked away in obscurity. Prust didn’t manage to pick up much German.
“Not really,” Prust said. “I’m not good with languages.”
Prust wants to be on the same page with the Kings after they brought him to camp on a tryout contract. He jumped right in Friday with a fight against Scott Sabourin.
Prust is part of a dying breed as an enforcer with 1,036 penalty minutes in 486 NHL games. He said there’s still room for that role in the NHL and pointed to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ signing of Ryan Reaves.
“The best player in the world, [Sidney] Crosby, said that a presence like that creates room and kind of makes guys think twice about taking runs at top players,” Prust said. “Fighting is definitely fading in the game, but if you ask anybody in the game, you know how important the physical presence is and how it can create space on the ice for the top guys.”
Goalie Cal Petersen made his Kings debut and made a highlight glove save on Nick Ritchie . . . . The Kings released Clayton Kiri- chenko, Shane Walsh and Evan Weinger from their tryout contracts.