Some lessons with staying power were gained in the Ducks’ 1-0 triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night, as Anaheim’s rookie goalie beat a team that has been a perennial Stanley Cup champion or contender since 2010.
John Gibson is a confident lad, but even he likely needed to prove to himself that he was up to the challenge of stoning Jonathan Toews on a one-timer, of stopping the best-laid plans of veteran scorer Marian Hossa and doing everything else he did in his 38-save shutout at United Center.
Takeaway No. 1: Gibson has turned a corner that makes the Ducks (8-2) a power beyond who they were after nine games.
What changed from his disappointing season-opening 6-4 loss in Pittsburgh?
“Who knows?” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Could be nerves … myriad of things. But we knew once he got on top of his game, he’s a good goalie.”
Takeaway No. 2: Hitting like that slows down the potent offenses.
Ducks defenseman Mark Fistric knocked Chicago defenseman Michal Rozsival into Anaheim’s bench area in the first period. Ryan Kesler matched Fistric with five hits and center Nate Thompson had four.
That’s what the Ducks didn’t do in leaving Gibson to face 39 shots in Pittsburgh. Consistently imposing that resistance is their blueprint forward.
Takeaway No. 3: Ducks-Blackhawks would be a sensational playoff series.
The teams who both lost to the Kings in seven games in last season’s playoffs deliver an entertaining style and they’ve routinely battled through compelling regular-season meetings over the last three seasons.
Of course it’s silly to talk about the playoffs in October, but all sides were doing so Tuesday.
Circle Nov. 28 and Jan. 30 on the calendar as the series continues, with both games in Anaheim.
Takeaway No. 4: Dany Heatley joined the team.
The veteran and former two-time 50-goal scorer slowed by a preseason groin injury showed rust in his Ducks’ debut.
He played 13 minutes, 26 seconds with just one shot, another blocked and one hit, but after three more games in the next five days, expect more of an impact.