Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - John Gibson made the most of his NHL playoff debut, recording a 28-save shutout as Anaheim claimed a 2-0 victory over Los Angeles in Game 4 of this Western Conference semifinal.
"As soon as we called him up, I thought about starting him," said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. "I thought he would give us the best chance to win."
Gibson had gone 3-0-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and one whitewash in three appearances at the tail end of the regular season for the Pacific Division champions. He became the first rookie to post a shutout in a playoff debut since Andrew Raycroft of the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens (3-0) on April 7, 2004.
Devante Smith-Pelly and Ryan Getzlaf provided early offense for the Ducks, who drew even in the best-of-seven set by winning two games on the road after losing two straight at home.
Jonathan Quick and Martin Jones combined to make only 12 saves the Kings, who couldn't come up with any offense despite holding the Ducks without a shot in the second period and three on net in the game's final 40 minutes.
"It wasn't a tough thought process. They scored two goals. I don't think our goaltending is an issue. We have to finish off our shots to be successful," offered Kings head coach Darryl Sutter on his decision making in light of LA's offensive struggles.
Game 5 returns to Orange County on Monday.
Anaheim recorded the game's first goal with 3:58 left in the first period. Corey Perry worked out of a scramble at the left post, tracked down an errant shot which caromed off the back boards, then backhanded the puck along the side of the crease, where Smith-Pelly lifted the puck over Quick.
Getzlaf's third-chance rebound from the left post on a Ducks power play found its way to the back of the net and Anaheim led 2-0 with 75 seconds remaining in the opening frame.
Getzlaf kept his club up by two when he dove in the crease as Gibson was out of position to block an open shot from Drew Doughty, who cruised in from his location at the point to join the fray.
In a surprise move, Quick was on the bench in favor of Jones to start the second, but the effect wasn't sufficient for the hosts to put one past Gibson. Los Angeles threw 12 shots on goal in the second period without success, and held their rivals to no shots on Jones.
That marked the first time in franchise playoff history that LA held an opponent shotless, and just the second time overall, after a similar feat on April 5, 1978 at St. Louis.
The Kings withstood a double-minor for high-sticking to Anze Kopitar, who bloodied Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano at the 5:23 mark of the third, but recorded just one shot during a power play with 7:47 left in regulation after Cogliano tripped Dustin Brown.
"We have to do more in the offensive zone. We have to score goals. We have to make it harder on their goalie -- whoever it is," stated Kopitar.
Still, the hosts kept pressing. Gibson padded away a right-wing try from Jake Muzzin, then stoned Tyler Toffoli in close as the clock ticked below five minutes to play.
Jones was pulled for an extra skater twice in the final 2 1/2 minutes, yet the Ducks defense prevented any further quality chances.
"After the first five minutes, I settled down. It's exciting but we haven't won anything yet. If I got that call, I had to be ready," Gibson admitted.