ANAHEIM - Kevin Boyle's 35-save shutout led the Ducks to a 1-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks that snapped a seven-game losing streak and gave Bob Murray his first win as head coach.
It's a sentence that seemed unimaginable as of about a month or so ago, but such is life for the Anaheim Ducks, who earned just their third win in the last 22 games with this one tonight.
The Ducks were coming off their most frustrating stretch in recent memory, having been outscored 37-8 during that seven-game skid that included a winless six-game road trip that concluded on Saturday. That led to the dismissal of coach Randy Carlyle and the surprising replacement in the interim of Murray, who made his debut behind the bench tonight and earned the victory.
"I thought the emotion was good. I thought the effort was good," Murray said. "We haven't won in a very long time. Everybody was gripping [their sticks] too hard. Overall, I thought it was a really good effort, and our goaltender played very well."
Jakob Silfverberg scored the Ducks' only goal, and Boyle was sensational with parents Diana and John in the stands to watch him make his first start in the NHL. Boyle was nearly speechless and clearly overcome with emotion when asked his thoughts during a postgame interview on live TV soon after the final horn.
"It's something you dream of growing up a little kid playing street hockey," Boyle said. "To be able to come out here and get a win the first game, I can't even describe it. I can honestly say it's exceeded everything I ever dreamt of."
With John Gibson injured, the 26-year-old Boyle was called up four days ago and made his NHL debut in relief against the Flyers in Philadelphia. Prior to his call-up, Boyle was 19-7-1 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .909 save percentage for the San Diego Gulls and was named to the AHL All-Star Game.
Video: VAN@ANA: Boyle shuts out Canucks in first NHL start
Boyle's 35 saves marked the sixth-most in NHL history in a goaltender's first NHL start (since shots were recorded in 1955). Only one other goaltender after the 2000-2001 season has recorded as many saves in his first NHL start (Troy Grosenick with San Jose vs. Carolina, on November 16, 2014 with 45 saves).
Boyle became the second goaltender in Ducks franchise history to record a shutout while making his first career NHL start. The other? John Gibson on Apr. 7, 2014, also vs. Vancouver.
Tonight was also Mighty Ducks Movie Tribute Night, in which a dozen cast members from the trilogy took part in the ceremonial puck drop and met with fans during the night.
Video: VAN@ANA: Cast of The Mighty Ducks drop first puck
The Ducks took their first lead since their last home game - January 23 vs. St. Louis - six and a half minutes into this one, when Silfverberg punched in a rolling puck just outside the crease.
Video: VAN@ANA: Silfverberg snaps one by Markstrom
Anaheim didn't generate a lot offensively from that point on, but they hung tough with the help of Boyle - notably when Vancouver sent goalie Jacob Markstrom to the bench for an extra attacker with a little under two minutes left in the game.
"Some of the things we worked on in the last week, cleaning up our own zone a bit, were very good," Murray said. "Our defensive-zone coverage, our layers, the changes we made, I thought those were very good. But after that, we didn't execute."
The Ducks will look to keep the winning feeling going Friday night vs. Boston at Honda Center.
"Everything was positive on the bench," Murray said. "They were helping each other. When you struggle as bad as they've struggled, you've got to learn how to trust one another again. That's slowly going to come. We need to build on that."