John Gibson continues to face a bevy of shots, but each and every night, he’s up to the task.
This time, he had a whopping 52 shots unloaded on him by the Florida Panthers, but it didn’t matter.
The goaltender swatted all but two away, and propelled the Ducks to a 3-2 victory over the Panthers on Sunday in front of a sold-out 17,174 at Honda Center.
“It’s not up to me [how many shots I face],” said Gibson, who has given up two goals or less in three consecutive starts. “You don’t have a choice.
“When you come into the game, you might get 10, you might get 50. You gotta be ready to play every night.”
Luckily for the Ducks, Gibson has been ready when called upon. The team has allowed an average of 35.8 shots per game, worst in the NHL. Their 5.3 shot-differential is second-worst in the league (they generated 28 shots against the Panthers).
But they got the win, thanks to their power play, which is finally on track. For the first time in almost a month, the Ducks have reeled off consecutive wins in regulation.
“We only had one game this week and it showed, we were rusty with the puck. … To tax our goaltender to the level we taxed him tonight is unfair to him,” coach Randy Carlyle said.
“He saved our butts. We didn’t have a very good outing from a standpoint of management of the puck. We turned the puck over 16 times in the second period alone, and we were fortunate enough that the power play won the special-teams battle.”
The Ducks received power-play goals from Rickard Rakell (one-time pass from Chris Wagner) and Brandon Montour (slap shot in close off a Corey Perry rebound).
Josh Manson opened the scoring with a nifty breakaway goal late in the first period, and after that, the Ducks never lost the lead.
They threatened to allow the Panthers back in the game. That’s what happens when you allow 50-plus shots, and you’re forced to kill six infractions (including two delay-of-game calls). Carlyle is frustrated by the repeated parade to the penalty box, and something has to give.
“We’re getting close to Game 20 here,” Carlyle said. “The message has gotta get through here.”
A Vincent Trochek shot on the power play cut the deficit to one goal in the second period, and the Panthers had an astounding number of chances on their three power-play opportunities in the final period.
But Gibson was there, diving, sprawling and denying every shot he faced on those penalty kills.
A Keith Yandle point shot brought the Panthers within one goal with less than three minutes left, but they couldn’t convert with Roberto Luongo pulled for the extra attacker.
The Ducks still have much to clean up, but if they keep receiving performances like this from Gibson and the power play, they should be able to compete on most nights.
Ducks pay homage to Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne
Ducks legends Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last Monday, and the team honored the dynamic duo with a pregame ceremony, including a question-and-answer session, at center ice.
Ducks owner Henry Samueli hinted that the team might soon add Kariya’s No. 9 jersey to the rafters alongside Selanne’s No. 8.
AT SAN JOSE
When: Monday, 7 p.m
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 830
Update: The Sharks topped the Ducks 2-1 in a shootout when they met this month. … That time, the Sharks faced Ryan Miller, and coming off a back-to-back, the Bay Area-club could again face a backup goaltender, though it won’t be Miller, who is nursing a lower-body injury. Reto Berra could get the call. … The Sharks (10-8) sit one point behind the Ducks in the Pacific Division with a game in hand. … Logan Couture leads the Sharks with 10 goals, three more than any Ducks player.