Whitehall native Gibson notches shutout in NHL debut
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — John Gibson put an end to Vancouver’s playoff hopes with a perfect start to his career.
The 20-year-old goalie from Whitehall made 18 saves to earn a shutout in his NHL debut, and the Anaheim Ducks eliminated the listless Canucks from postseason contention with a 3-0 victory Monday night.
“The team played really well in front of me and made my job easier. I only had to make regular saves and if there was rebounds, they cleared it out,” said Gibson, the youngest goalie with a shutout in his first NHL start since Daren Puppa in 1985. “Everyone knew it was a big game.”
Daniel Winnik, Kyle Palmieri and Matt Beleskey scored for Anaheim, which is three points ahead of San Jose for first place in the Pacific Division.
Gibson, who led the United States to a gold medal at the 2013 world junior hockey championship, wasn’t tested much but made a huge save on Niklas Jensen to preserve the shutout with about eight minutes gone in the third period.
“He looked so much more calm than a 20-year-old kid playing his first NHL game,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It was like, ho hum. After my first game when I scored a goal, you couldn’t shut me up. I was so happy I was jumping up and down, and he was just, ah, here we go again.
“I think it’s a demeanor that a goalie has to have.”
The Canucks had made five straight playoff appearances — including a loss to Boston in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals three years ago.
Lack stopped Andrew Cogliano on a breakaway 15 seconds into the first period after he stripped defenseman Jason Garrison of the puck, but the Canucks goalie couldn’t bail out his team a second time after another gaffe a few minutes later.
With Vancouver on the power play, Winnik jumped on a mistake by Canucks captain Henrik Sedin and moved in alone to rip his sixth of the season over Lack’s blocker at 6:26.
Vancouver had a couple of chances later in the man advantage, including a scramble in front of Gibson that saw the puck dribble off the post and stay out. Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler then took another shot off the iron that fooled Gibson, seen by many as Anaheim’s goalie of the future.
“Any time you’re sitting there starting a 20-year-old kid, you’re sitting there saying, ‘Hey, if we don’t play good, they could kill this guy,’ ” Boudreau said. “They really straightened out the problems we’ve been having.
“I wanted a complete defensive effort from the team. That’s what we’ve been lacking for the last three weeks. It worked out … everyone was so solid defensively.”
Anaheim grabbed a 2-0 lead at 17:03 of the second period when Palmieri deflected a point shot past Lack for his 14th goal of the season.
Vancouver had nine shots to Anaheim’s 18 through two periods and there was a smattering of boos as players left the ice for intermission.
Anaheim made it 3-0 just 1:20 into the third when Beleskey finished off a pretty passing play with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf for his seventh of the season.
Asked when he wants back in, Gibson smiled and responded, “That’s not up to me.”