After coming out of Detroit two nights ago with a gritty comeback victory, the undefeated Ducks (3-0) will look to keep their winning streak alive as they face an injury-ravaged Pittsburgh Penguins team (1-2-0) tonight at PPG Paints Arena. (4 p.m. PT, TV: Prime Ticket, Radio: AM 830). The Ducks enter tonight's game with a 3-0 record, the third time in franchise history the club has begun a season with three straight wins. (Also 2006-07 and 2018-19).
This marks a homecoming for Ducks goaltender John Gibson, who hails from the Steel City. The 26-year-old netminder has been simply spectacular in his first three appearances this season, giving up one goal in each of those games. Yesterday at practice, Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins said Gibson is leading by example. "You take that first period [in Detroit], and a couple of times during the game where we just didn't have our game or we had made a mistake," he said. "He's been there at the critical times. That's why we've been able to win games. He's kept us in it. He's inspired our group. It's such a luxury to have a goaltender like that in the organization."
It's still very early in the season, as tonight marks Anaheim's fourth game of the new campaign, but defenseman Josh Manson says the Ducks are already starting to develop a "quiet confidence" inside the locker room. "We all think we're not there yet, but we know the pieces are there to play a better game," he said. "I think we'd all agree we didn't play a great game against Detroit. We found some goals in the third period. That's how you're going to win some games sometimes. The first two games were a better indication of how we could play. Those are the kinds of things we need to build on, and just continue to play that style. I think we have confidence in the style we play."
The Ducks are facing a Penguins squad hit hard by injuries. Already without centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad - both out long term with lower-body injuries - it was announced yesterday that forwards Alex Galchenyuk and Patric Hornqvist are day to day with lower-body ailments, according to Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. Bryan Rust is also out, joining Malkin, Bjugstad and Galchenyuk on injured reserve.
"It's a great opportunity for people to step up and show what they can do," Sullivan said in his post-practice media scrum yesterday. "When teams go through the injury bug like it's hit our team right now, we've got to pull together and find ways to win games. We believe that this group is still capable. We still have enough firepower in the lineup every night."