The Anaheim Ducks and their fans have been excited about John Gibson’s potential for some time and Monday they got a taste of what he’ll bring to the NHL. In his debut, Gibson shut out the Canucks, tied a franchise record, and eliminated Vancouver from the playoffs.
Drafted in the second round, 39th overall in 2011, John Gibson has been a star on the rise ever since.
He had already earned under-17 and under-18 gold with the Americans before being drafted and the season after the Anaheim Ducks selected him, Gibson led the Ontario League with a .928 save percentage. He finished up his junior career just last season and led the Americans to WJC gold with an MVP effort.
This season, Gibson has been one of the better goalies in the American League with the Norfolk Admirals. In his very first month of professional hockey, Gibson was named the best AHL goalie in October. At each step, Gibson has met the challenge as a dominant talent would.
Monday, the 20-year-old Pittsburgh native took another step and started his first NHL game. With Frederik Andersen out of the lineup and Jonas Hiller resting from Sunday’s game in Edmonton, Gibson was the man to face Vancouver.
It turned out to be a great (and sometimes lucky) night for the young American, who earned a shutout in the 3-0 win, and for his Ducks team, which tied a franchise record of 110 regular season points.
And it turned out to be another awful, cringe-worthy night for the Canucks, who managed only 18 shots on the rookie. The loss officially eliminated their playoff hopes.
Vancouver hit three or four posts early in the game before settling into the malaise that has scuttled their season. The Canucks took six shots in the first and only three in the second period. This was the best opportunity they had and the best save Gibson made.
Gibson became the first goalie since Al Montoya, who did it on April 1, 2009, to record a shutout in his first NHL game. But he also became the youngest goalie to record a shutout in his first game since Nov. 1, 1985, when Daren Puppa did it for the Buffalo Sabres.
Meanwhile, Eddie Lack allowed three goals on 23 shots, the Sedins combined for two shots, Vancouver lost its fourth in five games, and fans started chanting “Fire Gillis” through the final seconds.
Gibson’s win may have marked a new and exciting era for Anaheim, but it also marked a new low for Vancouver.