On Monday, April 7, 2014, the Anaheim Ducks got a lift from an unlikely source. In recent weeks, the Ducks have been a bit off their game. Not only the skaters, but also the number one goalie Jonas Hiller. On this Monday evening, playing on the road against their third straight non-playoff team, Anaheim came up big.
Due to Hiller needing rest, and an injury to normal backup goalie Frederik Andersen, rookie goaltender John Gibson got the opportunity to start his first-ever NHL game. It will be one he will not soon forget. In fact, no matter how the rest of his NHL career goes, even if he never plays in another NHL game (quite unlikely), he will always have this night, and this moment. This is the kind of stuff about which one tells one's grandchildren.
Gibson's first NHL start, turned out to be a 3-0 shutout win, on the road, against the Vancouver Canucks. The team won, but this was Gibson's night.
The last goalie to get a shutout in his NHL debut, was Al Montoya on April 1, 2009.
Was this a total team effort ? Absolutely. Gibson only faced 6 shots in the first period, 3 in the second, and only 18 shots overall.
In the third period, Gibson did have to come up big several times with his team holding a 3-0 lead. In the end, he made the stops he had to make, and preserved his flawless debut. Gibson will always have this moment.
Gibson was the Ducks' second round pick (39th overall) in the 2011 entry draft. The 20-year old is a native of Pittsburgh, PA. The athletic youngster stands 6'3'', 210 Lbs. On this night, he became the youngest goaltender in franchise history to start an NHL game.
For Gibson's effort, he was named Number one star of the game.
Said Gibson, "It was a great day, it's a day I'll remember for the rest of my life."
With the win, the Ducks snapped a two game losing streak.
There may be another interesting twist to this story. With Hiller having been a bit shaky recently, and the playoffs just over a week away, Gibson may soon get a shot on a much bigger stage. Nothing more needs to be spoken on that matter, anyone can fill in the blanks.
With only three games left in the 2014 regular season, the Ducks now have a 3 point lead over the second place San Jose Sharks in the Pacific division. The Sharks will be in Anaheim on Wednesday night to face the Ducks. If the Ducks get a win in regulation time, they will have clinched the Pacific division crown, and will face a wildcard team in the first round of the playoffs, while San Jose would face the L.A. Kings.
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