Gibson, 21, has gone 4-3 in eight straight starts, earning praise from Coach Bruce Boudreau while the Ducks have been without injured starting goalie Frederik Andersen and the team has staggered through a lethargic 6-7-1 stretch.
Andersen is expected to come off injured reserve Friday night after sustaining a head/neck injury Feb. 8 when the crossbar of a tipped-over goal unexpectedly whacked him. The Ducks demoted goalie Jason LaBarbera to minor-league Norfolk on Friday and Andersen is in position to make a start on the Ducks’ trip to Dallas and Arizona, with games Sunday and Tuesday.
Another date with the Kings is expected to accelerate the hosts’ enthusiasm at Honda Center.
The Kings eliminated Gibson and the Ducks in a seven-game Western Conference semifinal series last season, scoring three first-period goals against the rookie in Game 7 after he posted a Game 4 shutout at L.A. and stopped 39 of 42 shots in a Game 5 victory.
Gibson said he feels “fine” despite the recent grind and Ducks Captain Ryan Getzlaf praised the goalie for his consistent mettle.
“That’s what you train in the off-season for,” Gibson said. “You’ve just got to take care of your body more than you usually would. The guys are doing it, so I’m doing it with them. Help them out, help them win.”
Gibson said he anticipates Andersen’s return as a development that will strengthen the team. Earlier this season, while Gibson was sidelined with a groin injury, Andersen played in 20 straight games.
“Now that we’re both healthy, we’re ready to go,” Gibson said. “This is what everyone is most excited for … the playoffs, right? So we’re getting healthy now, we’ll see what happens at the trade deadline, but it’s nice to have Freddie and I back, and hopefully we can help the team.”
It starts Friday night, Gibson said. The first-place Ducks and defending Stanley Cup-champion Kings have gone to overtime or a shootout in all three meetings this season, with the Ducks winning twice.
Martin Jones is expected to start in goal for the Kings after three prior starts by Jonathan Quick.
“We haven’t been playing our best, so this is a big test for us tonight,” Gibson said.
GAME-TIME DECISION: Ducks fourth-line center Nate Thompson, who missed his first game of the season Wednesday with an unspecified injury, said he’ll wait and see how he feels before the game to know if he’s back in.
It’s a safe bet he’ll play after the Ducks sent center William Karlsson back to Norfolk on Thursday.