The Ducks want John Gibson to prove things, like showing how the 21-year-old goalie will fare in a back-to-back road series.
On Saturday night, as his teammates effectively conserved their diminished energy with just 21 shots on goal, Gibson stopped 26 shots in Anaheim's 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
“We came in here, played a team that's playing well right now, and got what we expected,” Gibson said of going 2-0 in his first NHL back-to-back test. “We all knew this was a big game, wanted to start building up the wins again.”
Beating the Western Conference's worst team isn't an extraordinary accomplishment. The first-place Ducks (37-16-7) are on a 20-3-1 run against the Oilers.
But considering their recent defense problems — arriving in Canada in a 3-7 slump in which they allowed four goals in seven of 10 games — heading back to the States with two straight victories serves as some needed salve.
“The second night in back-to-backs is always a mental battle. Your legs don't have the same jump, you need to be mentally sharp,” Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy said.
The Ducks steered through a flat second period, then scored the deciding goal 12 minutes, 47 seconds into the third when center Ryan Getzlaf shoved a shot off Edmonton goalie Ben Scrivens that skidded off the skate of Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz past the goal line.
“We've been trying to make a point of getting to that net a lot more aggressively,” Getzlaf said. “Got a lucky bounce.”
And Lovejoy had his legs when it mattered most, stopping Edmonton forward Ryan Hamilton at the post to Gibson's right on an ill-advised final-seconds line change by the Ducks while Edmonton had an extra attacker.
With 11 saves in the third, Gibson produced what Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau called a “marvelous” showing in his fifth consecutive start. Starting goalie Frederik Andersen continues his recovery from a Feb. 8 head/neck injury.
“He's gotten sharper and … he's getting confidence,” Boudreau said of Gibson, who endured a late-October groin injury and an extended minor-league assignment before rejoining the team earlier this month. “This is a good sign coming off the injury.”
Sweeping Calgary and Edmonton in consecutive regulation wins isn't easy. In 25 other such instances, the Ducks have accomplished the feat only once, in the franchise's debut 1993 trip.
Gibson will likely play again Monday, when the Ducks return to Honda Center against the Detroit Red Wings.
“Just enjoying the playing time, helping the team win when I'm in the net,” Gibson said. “We're all a little tired, but didn't want to use it as an excuse.”
The Ducks briefly continued their Friday night charge in Calgary, when they matched a franchise record by scoring five third-period goals in a 6-3 victory.
Just 48 seconds into Saturday's game, Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin scored a power-play goal. Anaheim is now 26-3-6 when scoring first and 18-1-3 when leading after the first period.
Edmonton tied the score 28 seconds into the second period when Teddy Purcell beat Gibson to his right.
“Few breakdowns, but most of all we kept everything to the outside, and our goalie had a good night,” Getzlaf said.
The game was the landmark 700th of Ducks' former league MVP Corey Perry and the 600th of Anaheim forward Andrew Cogliano.