ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is known to be coy when it comes to his lineup, and he was on top of his game when asked about his starting goalie for Wednesday.
Rookie John Gibson came off the ice first at the morning skate, usually an indicator he will start in a potential Pacific Division title-clinching game for Anaheim against the San Jose Sharks at Honda Center. Goalie Jonas Hiller stayed on for work.
"I'm not saying he's in," Boudreau said of Gibson. "He may have come off first, but there was a reason for that."
Boudreau wouldn't reveal anything more. Gibson, 20, became the youngest player to record a shutout in his NHL debut since Daren Puppa in 1985 in an 18-save win against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday. He was the first goalie to record a shutout in his Anaheim debut and the youngest Ducks goalie to appear in a game.
Gibson would appear to be Anaheim's best choice. Hiller is 6-9-3 in his past 18 games after a 14-0-2 run from November to January, and Boudreau recently said Hiller needs to get his confidence back. Goalie Frederik Andersen is recovering from a shot to the head April 4. Andersen came out late to do work.
Boudreau did say he was impressed with the poise of Gibson, a highly touted prospect. His teammates agreed.
"He doesn't look like he's 20 out there," defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "He looks like a much older guy. I think he's a really good goalie."
Anaheim could get defenseman Cam Fowler back from a sprained left MCL that has kept him out since March 14. Fowler took line rushes with Robidas and walked through the dressing room and told reporters, "Game-time decision."
"He's looking good, but is it the time yet?" Boudreau said. "I don't know. Me and [general manager] Bob [Murray] will talk this afternoon."
San Jose likely will insert left wing Bracken Kearns on the third line. Kearns will play in his first NHL game since Feb. 7.
The sides are anticipating a Stanley Cup Playoff atmosphere with so much on the line. San Jose coach Todd McLellan said the matchup is a welcome change after the Sharks played some non-playoff teams.
"I think tonight's game pits two teams that are obviously fighting for the division, but also trying to sharpen up their games," McLellan said. "It should bring the best out in both teams. Probably good for us, and Bruce will probably tell you the same thing, good for them. I'm glad that we're playing this type of game right now."
Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin is Anaheim's nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy for dedication and perseverance to hockey after he returned from a torn ACL in his right knee that he played with for the final month of last season.
Here are the projected lineups:
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Matt Nieto
Bracken Kearns – James Sheppard – Tommy Wingels
Mike Brown - Andrew Desjardins – Tyler Kennedy
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Jason Demers
Scott Hannan – Dan Boyle
Brad Stuart – Justin Braun
Injured: Raffi Torres (knee), Adam Burish (finger), Tomas Hertl (knee)
Scratched: Marty Havlat, Matt Irwin
McLellan said Torres didn't travel with the team. Hertl continues to skate but doesn't appear to be ready.
Matt Beleskey – Ryan Getzlaf –Corey Perry
Jakob Silfverberg – Saku Koivu – Andrew Cogliano
Patrick Maroon – Mathieu Perreault – Teemu Selanne
Daniel Winnik – Nick Bonino – Kyle Palmieri
Hampus Lindholm – Francois Beauchemin
Luca Sbisa – Ben Lovejoy
Cam Fowler – Stephane Robidas
Injured: Frederik Andersen (head), Tim Jackman (hand) Sheldon Souray (wrist), Mark Fistric (lower body)
Scratched: Rickard Rakell, Devante Smith-Pelly, Sami Vatanen