The Ducks picked up a much-needed victory Wednesday with a 4-2 defeat of the Boston Bruins at Honda Center. The first line came alive, with some big contributions from Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell and Derek Grant.
Here’s what we learned.
John Gibson is proving he’s an elite goalie
The No. 1 netminder perhaps was motivated by the offseason acquisition of former Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller. Or maybe it’s just maturity as the 24-year-old steps into a second season as the top goaltender.
Whatever it is, Gibson has been excellent in a season in which he’s faced a barrage of shots. The Ducks are third in the NHL in shots against at 34.9. That needs to change if they’re going to win a sixth consecutive Pacific Division title.
Josh Manson has been a force in both zones
The Ducks locked up the defenseman with a four-year extension last month, and it’s easy to see why. Manson leads the team with a stellar plus-12 rating, and he’s also chipped in eight assists, tops among blue-liners.
He scored his first goal of the season when his sharp-angle shot bounced off Zdeno Chara’s skate. Manson’s biggest asset is on the back side, though, where his long reach and penchant for impact hits has anchored the defense.
Grant isn’t just a grinder
The longtime minor leaguer was surprisingly thrown into the No. 1 center role amid a rash of injuries, but he’s proving he belongs with the big club, and in an important role. He created a slew of chances again Wednesday, and scored an insurance goal when he redirected Perry’s wrister from the high slot.
Grant consistently drove to the net and easily could have produced a couple more points. He also dished out five hits, and right now, his physical play is paying dividends.