Tonight in Chicago won’t just be a compelling battle between two of the best teams in the NHL. It’s also shaping up to be a pretty compelling goaltending match-up, between Anaheim rookie John Gibson (reportedly) and Blackhawks third-stringer Scott Darling.
Gibson has had an eventful start to the season. The 21-year-old got lit up in Anaheim’s first game, a 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh. Then, after a short stint in the minors, he returned to the Ducks and beat the Blue Jackets, 4-1, on Friday.
Darling, meanwhile, began the season in the AHL. An injury to starter Corey Crawford, combined with two straight Chicago losses with backup Antti Raanta between the pipes, begot the opportunity for Darling to make his first NHL start Sunday versus the Senators — a game in which the Illinois native stopped 32 of 33 shots, got the 2-1 win, and was named first star.
“I was excited and terrified,” Darling said. “It’s 20 years of work coming to this one game. I’ve been a Blackhawks fan since I knew what hockey was.”
“Certainly, his play is the reason he’s getting right back in there,” coach Joel Quenneville said.
Crawford, by the way, says he could be back from his upper-body injury Thursday versus Ottawa.