Rookie Gibson calmly evens series


LOS ANGELES -- Andrew Cogliano glanced over during pregame at the 20-year-old goalie about to start in their biggest game yet of the season, and the Anaheim Ducks forward was amazed.

John Gibson had the look of a kid who could have just as well been anywhere else in the world but at Staples Center before his first-ever NHL playoff game.

"I've never seen a goalie like him, really," Cogliano said. "He's really calm. Before the game, it looked like he was getting ready for a preseason game.

"You get a little scared when you're looking at him preparing," Cogliano said, chuckling. "And then he goes out and plays like that."

And then he goes out at 20 years, 330 days old and becomes the youngest goalie in NHL history to record a shutout in his playoff debut and the youngest to win a playoff game since Montreal Canadiens star Carey Price did back in 2008, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

It can't be just coincidence that Gibson and Price are linked by that piece of trivia. Like Price yawning during an Olympic gold-medal game, Gibson projects that same zero-pulse demeanor.

Honestly, the kid was so zen-like in his postgame news conference Saturday night, it might as well have been a November victory.

"When I found out I was going to play, I was just excited," Gibson said. "I knew the team had to get a win tonight."

Gibson seemingly had ice running through his veins as he stopped  Marian Gaborik on a dangerous 2-on-1 chance in the first period, made a terrific pad save on a  Tanner Pearson chance in the middle period when the Ducks were outshot and stoned Tyler Toffoli with his best save of the night, in-close on a one-timer from the slot in the third period.

Ho-hum, 28 saves on 28 shots, named the first star of the game, a huge 2-0 Game 4 victory for the Ducks that tied the Battle of Socal 2-2.

"He played great. He's calm back there," said Ducks star Corey Perry, who tallied two assists on the night. "He came in and he's all business.

"He's a guy that's just steady back there. He makes the first save and smothers rebounds. He's played in big games. It goes back to world championships, world juniors, all those things."

Bruce Boudreau deserves massive credit here. If Gibson gets lit up, the Ducks head coach would have opened himself to a world of scrutiny for starting a goalie with exactly three games of NHL experience -- none of them in the playoffs -- over an experienced Jonas Hiller, who wasn't all that bad in Games 1 and 2.

Boudreau said he began to think about starting Gibson when Gibson was recalled Friday from AHL Norfolk. But I've got news for you: Boudreau began thinking about starting Gibson as he was walking out of Staples Center after Game 3 Thursday night, after having lost Frederik Andersen to injury.

Remember, Gibson played what was the biggest game in the regular season April 9 against the  San Jose Sharks, stopping 36 of 38 shots as the Ducks won to clinch the Pacific Division. The seed was planted right then and there. Heck, Boudreau even debated about whether to start Gibson in the first game of the playoffs before deciding to go with fellow rookie Andersen.

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