By Kyle Shohara
In a series in which the road team has won every game thus far, the Ducks will look to break that trend tonight as the scene shifts to Honda Center for Game 5.
The Ducks are coming off two monumental victories at Staples Center that evened the series at two games apiece, the second of which featured 20-year-old rookie goaltender John Gibson making his postseason debut.
Yesterday, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau kept no secrets regarding tonight’s starting netminder. “I’m not going to try and play that game,” he said. “[Gibson] came in, played great, and is going to play again.” Gibson stopped 28 shots in Game 4, including several in close keeping the score 2-0.
Boudreau says he’s always believed Game 5 is the most important game in a series. “It always has been, whether you're down 3-1 or 2-2,” he said. “Game 5 is the big game. It really puts a team in the hole. The team that doesn't have home ice advantage wants it so bad, because they want to win it at home. We believe they’ll play their best game of the series.”
There’s a familiarity factor between these two teams, perhaps a reason why the road team has been able to win every game of this series. But Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri says their fans will help push them tonight.
“We want to bring that effort we had the last couple nights and get off to a good start in front of our fans,” he said. “The two teams are so familiar with each other’s buildings playing each other so many times during the year. We know what to expect from both arenas, but we’re excited to play in front of our fans again. Hopefully we can take a lead in this series.”
When the Ducks were down 2-0 in the series, they talked about playing desperation hockey in Games 3 and 4 at Staples Center. And now with the series tied, they’re carrying that same mindset into Game 5.
“We know how important this game is,” said Teemu Selanne. “This is going to be the biggest game of the season. We knew it was going to be a tight series. We just want to do things better.”
“We’re going to come out and play like we did the last two games,” said Devante Smith-Pelly, who ranks tied for second on the team with three goals. “That’s playing desperate with a lot of urgency. It’s a lot better being up 3-2 than down 3-2.”
NOTES ON GIBSON
Per Elias Sports Bureau, John Gibson (20 years and 300 days) is the youngest goalie in NHL history to record a shutout in his playoff debut.
Gibson is only the sixth NHL goaltender in the last 60 years to post a shutout in his first Stanley Cup playoff game, the first since Jonas Hiller did so for the Ducks in 2009 (April 16 @ San Jose, CQF). The other goaltenders to do so since 1954 are Bob Mason (1987 Capitals), Jacques Cloutier (1989 Sabres), Chris Osgood (1994 Red Wings), Andrew Raycroft (2004 Bruins), and the aforementioned Hiller.
Gibson also registered a shutout in his first regular-season NHL game (April 7, 2014 at Vancouver). The only other goaltender in NHL history to notch a shutout in both his first regular-season game and his first playoff game is Hall-of-Famer Tiny Thompson with the Boston Bruins (November 1928 and March 1929).
Gibson (age 20 years, 300 days) is the fourth-youngest goaltender in NHL history at the time of his first career playoff shutout (debut game or not), behind Harry Lumley (age 18 in 1945), Patrick Roy (age 20 years, 229 days in 1986) and Carey Price (age 20 years, 243 days in 2008).
Gibson is the youngest goalie to win a playoff game since Montreal's Carey Price (20 years and 238 days) on April 24, 2008 vs. Philadelphia.