You’re in, John Gibson.
The Anaheim Ducks turned to the 20-year-old rookie goalie Gibson in a critical Game 4 against the L.A. Kings in the second-round playoff series. It would’ve been understandable had Anaheim’s head coach Bruce Boudreau turned to the veteran Jonas Hiller. Quite the stage for a young player, never mind one tasked with stopping pucks, to be put right into. Gibson, who has spent the vast majority of this season in the American Hockey League, was making his Stanley Cup playoff debut.
On this stage, Gibson was spectacular. He made 28 saves for the 2-0 shutout victory over the Kings. And the best-of-seven series is now tied 2-2. Neither team has won on home ice. Gibson and the Ducks were under siege for most of the final two periods. Anaheim failed to even register a single shot on goal in the second period.
The Ducks did strike quickly in the first period. Devante Smith-Pelly and Ryan Getzlaf scored less than three minutes apart to give Anaheim a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period. Kings’ coach Darryl Sutter pulled Jonathan Quick after just 20 minutes, replacing him with Martin Jones.
Jones wasn’t busy at all, forced to make only three saves.
But the story was Gibson, and the gamble by Boudreau to go with an unproven but talented goalie in such an important game.