Whitehall native Gibson plays starring role in goal for Ducks
NEW YORK — Whitehall's John Gibson long has been considered a future star.
The future is now.
Gibson, who plays for the Anaheim Ducks, became the first goalie in the modern NHL era to record a shutout in his first regular-season and postseason game. The Ducks defeated Los Angeles, 2-0, in Saturday's Game 4 to even the series.
“I have friends on Twitter and friends still in Pittsburgh who are so excited about John Gibson,” former Penguins and current Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. “But they're not nearly as excited as the guys were in this room last night playing in front of him.”
Gibson, 20, will start Game 5 on Monday night.
“I'm just going to be ready when my name is called,” Gibson said.
Coach Bruce Boudreau said Gibson will make the fifth start of his NHL career in a game to decide which team moves to the brink of the Western Conference finals.
Gibson would be under a mountain of pressure — if he actually noticed that sort of thing.
“It's not a difficult decision (in Game 5),” Boudreau said. “He came in. He played great. ... We knew L.A. hadn't seen him, so they probably wouldn't have a good scouting report on him.”
Gibson was imperturbable while winning the first showdown of his career with Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick, who got pulled by Kings coach Darryl Sutter after allowing two first-period goals in Game 4. Gibson claims he was having fun, but his teammates and coaches certainly couldn't tell.
“I saw that on a nightly basis all year, so that doesn't surprise me,” said Ducks forward Devante Smith-Pelly, who scored in Game 4 after spending most of the season with Gibson and the AHL's Norfolk Admirals.
“Knowing his personality, I knew he would be all right. He just goes out and plays his game. Never gets rattled.”
The Ducks kept Gibson in the minors this year to keep him active instead of sitting behind Jonas Hiller or Frederik Andersen, but he made his NHL debut with a shutout in Vancouver last month. He still hasn't lost for the Ducks, going 4-0 while stopping 111 of 115 shots.
No NHL goalie had recorded a shutout in his first playoff game since Hiller, who did it in 2009.
Yet his new Anaheim fans and his older teammates still don't know much about Gibson — including 43-year-old Teemu Selanne, who had just finished his record-setting rookie season in Winnipeg when Gibson was born in 1993.
Three of the four local players selected in the first three rounds of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft — Gibson, the Rangers' J.T. Miller and the Blackhawks' Brandon Saad — reached the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The other, Florida forward Vince Trocheck, scored five goals in 20 games after his NHL debut in March.
Gibson said he hopes the success he is having, along with the other three local players, will go a long way toward making hockey in Pittsburgh a bigger deal.
“Hopefully it will help the city of Pittsburgh with youth hockey and everything like that,” Gibson said.