NHL Playoffs: Canadiens Force Game Seven, Gibson Shines for Ducks

John Gibson
John Gibson
May 12 2014 Anaheim CA USA Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson 36 is congratulated by center Matheiu Perreault 22 and defenseman Sami Vatanen 45 after game five of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings at Honda Center The Ducks defeated the Kings 4 3 to take a 3 2 series lead Kirby Lee USA TODAY Sports

Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens – MTL wins 4-0, Series tied 3-3

Heading in to Game 6, there were two particular storylines that were of interest. They were two storylines that would likely be linked with the success of one or the other.

For Boston, there were the comments from David Krejci before the game. He talked about how “my time is about to come and I’m going to be big for my team.” Krejci had led not just the Bruins, but the entire NHL in playoff scoring in two of the last three years but had just one assist to this point in the Montreal series (zero goals and three assists for the playoffs). While part of his run could be attributed to bad luck (his PDO to this point in the playoffs was 947) he also had been a pretty poor possession player at 46.8 percent CorsiFor for the postseason. Seeing as his PDO for last year’s playoff run was 1069, this seemed like a way of the universe balancing itself. It’s always interesting when a player makes some sort of guarantee, though, so Krejci would be a focal point for this game.

Since stealing Game 1 for Montreal, Carey Price had played with some inconsistency. Of course, that’s kind to be expected playing the President’s Trophy-winning team, but Price had a .914 save percentage over the four games which is about league average. League average goaltending is not good enough to beat the Boston Bruins in a series and especially with Montreal blowing one game already, Price would likely have to steal one of the next two games for the Canadiens in order for them to have a chance to advance to the next round.

Price would get a little help from his crossbar in the first period as a Loui Eriksson shot beat Price but clanged the iron. As the CBC broadcast would point out, that would be the 10th post or crossbar that Bruins have hit this series on Price. Sometimes, a goalie has to get a bit lucky to steal a game, this was an early break for the Habs’ goaltender.

Krejci finished the first period tied as Boston’s leader in puck possession among forwards with Brad Marchand (54.5 percent) but there was a clear effort from the Montreal coaching staff to get the right match-ups against him: Either Andrei Markov or P.K. Subban was on the ice for all of Krejci’s 5-on-5 shifts.

Price would have his first “stand on his head” moment at around the 12-minute mark of the second. The pairing of Mike Weaver and Josh Gorges were pinned in their zone for well over a minute and Price had to make a couple of big stops to keep Boston off the board. One of them was a diving paddle/arm save as Price was coming across to stop Milan Lucic.

David Desharnais would clear a puck off the goal line with the knob of his stick after the Bruins had very good pressure on Montreal for several shifts in a row. That was after a couple of nice saves off a high-pressure shift from the Krejci line. Despite the pressure, Price made 26 saves for the shutout. Krejci’s line, meanwhile, led the Bruins in puck possession but were kept off the score sheet again. That PDO is a fickle thing.

Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks – ANA wins 4-3, ANA leads series 3-2

The two goaltenders who were the starters for their respective teams would present an interesting dichotomy. It seemed to be a mis-match on paper, with Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick already with a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe to his name. At the other end of the ice, this would be Anaheim’s John Gibson’s fifth career NHL game and second of these playoffs. Gibson had been stellar in his tiny sample with the Ducks (.954 save percentage in three regular season game, a shutout in Game 4) while Jonathan Quick had a .917 in the playoffs to this point and was pulled in his most recent outing.

Gibson would come up big first for the Ducks, stretching from his right to his left and making a nice glove save on Tyler Toffoli. Quick would respond in kind with a couple of big stretch saves on Teemu Selanne with about four minutes remaining in the period. Despite the 1-1 score at this point, both goalies had done their part at keeping it at such a low score; there were 26 total shots in the period by the two teams and it was punctuated by end-to-end play with some sloppy defense in both defensive zones.

Quick wouldn’t get much help from his team early in the second period. A power play goal on a back-door pass from Selanne to Mathieu Perreault beat a sliding Quick who really had no chance. Less than 90 seconds later, Devante Smith-Pelly was sent in all alone by Ryan Getzlaf and he beat Quick with a deke to the backhand for the 3-1 lead. The sloppy play continued, as Selanne was left all alone in the slot less than a minute after the Smith-Pelly goal but Quick made a nice aggressive save. The Kings, who were so good defensively all season, looked like the Buffalo Sabres in their own end at times.

Jacob Silfverberg would jam home a rebound at the 11:37 mark of the second period and that would be Jonathan Quick’s fourth goal against on 18 shots. While it’s hard to say that any of them were directly his fault, he wasn’t making the big saves needed to keep a team that had no business winning this game in the game.

Gibson had a slow start to the second period in that the Kings weren’t generating much. On a penalty kill a couple of minutes after the third Anaheim goal, though, Gibson made four saves in succession on a jam play at the side of the net.

The 38th shot of the game for Los Angeles was a redirection to bring the Kings within a goal with just under six minutes remaining. Gibson had really shut the door for the Ducks to that point in the period, as Anaheim was outshot by the Kings 9-2 to that point.

John Gibson would hold down the net the rest of the way, even with some very good empty-net pressure from the Kings, to make 39 saves on 42 shots (including 13/14 in the third period) and give his team a series lead. It was a night where the rookie was better than is Conn Smythe opposite.

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Michael Clifford
Michael Clifford was born and raised in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and is a graduate of the Unviersity of New Brunswick. He writes about fantasy hockey and baseball for XNSports and FantasyTrade411.com. He can be reached on Twitter @SlimCliffy for any fantasy hockey questions. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');