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Cutter Gauthier will make his NHL debut as Jakob Silfverberg plays his final game as a Duck in tonight's season finale against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.


Anaheim closes the 2023-24 campaign in the same place it began, tonight looking for its third win in four tries over the defending Stanley Cup champs.

The Ducks dropped both ends of a back-to-back last weekend, a 6-3 loss to Calgary on Fan Appreciation Night at Honda Center and a tight 3-1 score in Los Angeles 24 hours later.

"I thought we played really well," head coach Greg Cronin said. "We got whacked pretty hard in Edmonton (a few weeks ago) and then we got to Vancouver and talked about advancing our development so we can win games here (late in the season). I've been around a long time and I've seen guys pack it in. These guys have not.

"Friday night, we didn't play well but we came out in the third period and stuck together, got back in the game. We need that same mentality for the Vegas game."

The losses dropped Anaheim to 26-50-5 on a season that will end well short of the playoffs, but Cronin specifically pointed to the continued growth of the team's young core late in the year as a positive sign for next fall.

"We're really close," Cronin said. "It stinks that we're not winning games, but I think when you watch us play now compared to December, it's a totally different identity to the group.

"If I'm a Ducks fan, I'm pretty excited about this young group of guys."

That young group of guys adds a new face tonight in Gauthier, who will make his NHL debut two days after first arriving in Orange County. The 20-year-old power forward joined the Ducks after a dynamite collegiate season, helping Boston College to a berth in the NCAA title game and becoming a Hobey Baker finalist. 

"It feels great, it's something I've dreamt of as a little kid playing in the National Hockey League and the day is finally here, so I can't be more thrilled," Gauthier said.

Gauthier skated at practice Tuesday alongside fellow rookie Leo Carlsson and veteran winger Alex Killorn, and could also see time on the power play.

"I like to play a fast paced, high-intensity game," Gauthier said. "I like to shoot the puck and make plays, but I wouldn't really say I'm a one-dimensional player. I like to play a 200-foot game and shut down top lines' offenses."

And while Gauthier will be taking the first steps of his NHL journey, Silfverberg will be taking in his last as the longtime Duck has announced his intention to retire from the NHL at the end of the season. 

Silfverberg has skated in 771 games with Anaheim and ranks in the club's top-10 all-time in most offensive categories, including goals (fifth), points (seventh), assists (eighth), shorthanded goals (third) and shootout goals (fourth).

"When you're kind of in it now, you don't really think too much of it," the ever-humble Silfverberg said. "But I mean, I'm sure if you ask me again in five years, I'll look back at this and I'd be extremely proud, just to be able to do this and play over 800 [total NHL] games."

Meanwhile on the other bench tonight will be a Vegas team looking to gear up for the postseason and lock down their first-round opponent. The Golden Knights currently sit third in the Pacific Division after earning their third straight win Tuesday night, 3-1 over the Blackhawks.

“Sometimes these games can be tough mentally,” defenseman Brayden McNabb stold NHL.com's Paul Delos Santos. “Wasn’t our best first, but we were able to get the win. It’s good for us down the road, especially with teams you dominate and don’t get goals. You stick with it and finally earn a few.”

Vegas will face either Dallas or Edmonton in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.