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Gibson stops 50 as Ducks edge Panthers 3-2

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Cats dominate, but fall just short in Anaheim

NHL: Florida Panthers at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers tested John Gibson 52 times and the goaltender was up to the task on 50 of them as the Anaheim Ducks held off the Florida Panthers for a 3-2 victory at Honda Center.

Gibson stopped all 16 shots in the first period, allowing the Ducks to grab the lead with a 1:03 left in the frame when defenseman Josh Manson got free after blocking Jonathan Hubderdeau’s shot and easily beat Roberto Luongo on a breakaway.

Anaheim went up by two 5:22 into the second on a power-play goal from Rickard Rakell. Chris Wagner found Rakell with a crossing pass and the Swede quickly slung the puck into the top of the net. Corey Perry earned the secondary assist with a nice bounce pass off the boards to spring Wagner.

The Panthers finally solved Gibson when Vincent Trocheck blasted the puck in from the right circle after Keith Yandle’s shot from the point was blocked. Aleksander Barkov picked up the second assist on Trocheck’s ninth, which came on the power play at the 15:26 mark.

Brandon Montour restored the Ducks two-goal lead when he slammed home the rebound of Perry’s high shot 1:30 into the third period. Perry let go from the right circle after taking a pass from Sami Vatanen and Luongo came up with the stop, but the puck went right to Montour for Anaheim’s second power-play goal of the night.

Florida kept firing away at Gibson and finally pulled one back with 2:59 to go and Luongo off for an extra attacker when Yandle found the back of the net from long range after taking a drop pass from Barkov. Trocheck picked up the second assist on the goal and Huberdeau provided the key screen.

Unfortunately, the Cats could not come up with the equalizer, allowing the Ducks to escape with the win. One of Gibson’s best stops came midway through the third when he robbed Aaron Ekblad with the glove. Gibson faced 24 shots in the third and only surrendered only the one to Yandle.

After starting with the trip with a well-played 2-0 win over San Jose, the Cats offense went cold in the two losses in Southern California. Anaheim’s ability to take advantage on the power play (2 for 4), while the Panthers did not (1 for 6) was another reason the Panthers left Orange County without a point.

Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)

Tar & Feathers

  • John Gibson improved to 12-0-0 in his NHL career when making at least 36 saves, and is now 4-0-0 this season when facing 40 shots or more. Impressive stuff...
  • Aaron Ekblad matched a career-high with 9 shots on goal to lead all skaters. Ekblad played a game-high 24 minutes and finished with a +1 rating.
  • Roberto Luongo finished with 25 saves and dropped back to .500 at 4-4-1.
  • The Ducks have killed off 49 of the past 56 power plays they have faced to move up to fourth (85.4) in the NHL.
  • Two-point nights from Vincent Trochek and Aleksander Barkov created a three-way tie with Jonathan Huberdeau for the club scoring lead. All three players have 21 points. Huberdeau had a goal waved off in the second period.
  • Jared McCann returned to the lineup after a 15-day absence and registered four shots on goal in 16:21 TOI.
  • Anaheim Calling has the other side of the game that split the season series. See you in 2018-19, Ducks.