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Ducks give Gibson first NHL start vs. Canucks

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- If being 43 didn't make Teemu Selanne feel old enough already, his last game in Vancouver will be the first in the NHL for 20-year-old Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson.

Selanne, who plans to retire at the end of the season after 22 years in the NHL and hasn't played back-to-back games all season, made sure he'd get one more against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday when he sat out against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

"The Western Canada cities are where I have played the most in my career," said Selanne, who started with the Winnipeg Jets and played all 1,448 games with Western Conference teams. "And this has always been my favorite city, so I wanted to play one more."

That it will be in front of Gibson may surprise some. But with Jonas Hiller struggling again in a 4-2 loss against the Oilers on Sunday and Frederik Andersen not traveling with the team after taking a slap shot off his mask Friday, the Ducks are starting their highly touted goaltending prospect in a big game.

Which does make the League's oldest active player feel a little older.

"Absolutely," Selanne said. "That's why I really enjoy this more when I am older. I've seen a lot of young guys come in, and today is another. He's going to have fun tonight, so hopefully we can play well too."

Gibson comes with an impressive resume.

Picked 39th by Anaheim in the 2011 NHL Draft, Gibson backstopped the United States to a gold medal, and was named Most Valuable Player and Best Goaltender at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship. Gibson then helped the senior U.S. National Team win bronze at the 2013 World Championship, posting a save percentage above .950 in both tournaments.

Gibson was also among the top goalies in his first American Hockey League season before being called up by the Ducks, but said none of that experience matters in his NHL debut.

"It definitely helps, but at the same time I have never played an NHL game, so there's nothing that really compares to it," Gibson said of his recent success at other levels. "You get nerves before every game, but a little bit more expectations here, so a little bit more nerves."

Getting his first start with the Ducks clinging to one-point lead on the San Jose Sharks atop the Pacific Division only adds to the pressure, especially since finishing second means facing the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau wasn't worried about the young goalie.

"It's not like you are calling up a backup from the American Hockey League," said Boudreau, adding that Andersen is expected to skate on Tuesday. "We have all the confidence in the world because he is a stud goalie. He can play. So we have no hesitation. I don't think the stage will bother him at all. He's not going to be affected."

Gibson's debut comes with the Canucks needing to win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. With four games left, Vancouver is six points behind the Dallas Stars for the second Western Conference wild-card spot, and has lost all four games (0-3-1) against the Ducks this season.

After beating the Kings for the first time this season Saturday, the Canucks will make only minor changes, moving right wing Jannik Hansen to the second line, and dropping Alexandre Burrows to Hansen's old spot on the fourth line. Goalie Eddie Lack will make his 19th straight start, tying the franchise rookie record.

Here are the projected lineups for the Ducks and Canucks:


Nick BoninoRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Patrick MaroonMathieu PerreaultTeemu Selanne

Andrew CoglianoSaku KoivuJakob Silfverberg

Matt BeleskeyDaniel WinnikKyle Palmieri

Hampus LindholmBen Lovejoy

Francois BeaucheminStephane Robidas

Bryan AllenLuca Sbisa

John Gibson

Jonas Hiller

Scratched: Rickard Rakell, Sami Vatanen, Devante Smith-Pelly

Injured: D Sheldon Souray (wrist), D Cam Fowler (knee), D Mark Fistric (lower body), RW Tim Jackman (hand), G Frederik Andersen (head)


Daniel SedinHenrik SedinNicklas Jensen

Chris HigginsRyan KeslerJannik Hansen

David BoothBrad RichardsonZack Kassian

Tom SestitoShawn MatthiasAlexandre Burrows

Dan HamhuisJason Garrison

Alexander EdlerKevin Bieksa

Ryan StantonFrank Corrado

Eddie Lack

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Jordan Schroeder, Zac Dalpe, Michael Zalewski

Injured: Yannick Weber (undisclosed), Christopher Tanev (broken finger), Mike Santorelli (shoulder surgery), Andrew Alberts (concussion)

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