LOS ANGELES – The Ducks were able to take care of business in a must-win Game 3 two nights ago, and they’ll look to do the same tonight in a pivotal Game 4 at Staples Center.
Daniel Winnik will draw into the lineup for the first time in this series, partly because of a lower-body injury that’s still bothering Matt Beleskey. Winnik admits it’s been tough being a healthy scratch the past three games, but says he’s still been able to come to the rink with a smile on his face. “You have to stay positive,” he said. “We’re still in the playoffs, we’re still in a season. That’s the most important thing.”
Winnik says being out of the lineup for an extended period of time can ramp up the adrenaline, so staying relaxed throughout the day will help temper those nerves. “It’s about preparation,” he said. “Just try to breathe, relax and not be uptight. That’s the biggest thing. I’ve been in this situation before where you haven’t played in a while. You get tight with the puck and chip it more than you should.”
Earlier today, head coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed that Beleskey will not play tonight. The 25-year-old suffered a lower-body injury in Game 3 and was scheduled to undergo tests on the injury.
Goaltender Frederik Andersen also didn’t skate this morning. On Andersen’s status, Boudreau said “He's not skating today, so that's an indicator he's not ready to play."
Ducks center Mathieu Perreault will be a game-time decision tonight, though he did take part in the morning skate. “I won’t go out there if I don’t feel I can help the team,” he said. “I’ll be a game-time decision.” Perreault said he’s not sure if he’ll take pregame warm ups. “I’ll talk with the trainers and figure it out.”
Rookie goaltender John Gibson is in the house after being recalled from the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League. The 20-year-old made his NHL debut with Anaheim in 2013-14, posting a 3-0-0 record with a 1.33 goals-against average (GAA) and .954 save percentage (SV%) in three games.
He became the youngest NHL goalie (20 years, 297 days) since Buffalo's Darren Puppa (Nov. 1, 1985 @ Edmonton; 20 years, 223 days) to record a shutout in his NHL debut after stopping all 18 shots for a 3-0 win on April 7 at Vancouver. Gibson was also the first goalie to record a shutout in his NHL debut at any age since Al Montoya of the Phoenix Coyotes (April 1, 2009 at Colorado) and the first in franchise history to record a shutout in his Anaheim debut. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week for April 7-13 after making his first three career NHL starts.
Adversity seems to bring out the best in the Ducks, who have proven throughout the season that deficits, losing streaks and injuries only serve as additional motivation to reach the next level. The Ducks posted 26 comeback wins in 2013-14, the most in the NHL since 2005-06 (Detroit and Nashville, 26). In addition, the Ducks went 23-15-2 (.575 points percentage) when the opponent scored first, the most wins and best points percentage of any team in such situations this season.
The Ducks have made two comebacks in this postseason, including the dramatic first round series-clinching victory in Game 6 over the Dallas Stars. In that game, Anaheim became the fifth NHL team since 1977 to rally from a multiple-goal deficit in the final 2:10 of regulation to win a playoff game with a Nick Bonino goal at 17:50 of the third period and a Devante Smith-Pelly tally with 24 seconds remaining in regulation.
With that being said, they can make it a lot easier on themselves if they score the first goal or take a lead into the third period. When scoring first in the postseason, the Ducks are 3-1-0. The Ducks are also 4-0 when leading after two periods. In addition, the team that has scored first in this series has won each game.
PAINT IT ORANGE AT STAPLES CENTER
As always, Ducks fans are encouraged to “Paint it Orange” wherever they are, and that includes Staples Center. For fans attending Game 4, head to the Anaheim Ducks Team Store Powered by Reebok at Honda Center today (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.) to pick up orange rally towels and 'Beat LA' thundersticks (while supplies last). You will need to show your ticket(s) or will call confirmation.
For those interested in watching tonight’s game with fellow Ducks fans, head to Hooters of Anaheim (2438 E Katella Ave., Anaheim, CA 92806) or Hooters of Costa Mesa (1507 S Coast Dr., Costa Mesa, CA 92626) for an Official Ducks Watch Party. Enjoy great food and drinks, intermission trivia and the opportunity to win player autographed items.