Gibson leads Ducks past Blackhawks 1-0
CHICAGO — John Gibson provided just enough time for Devante Smith-Pelly to come up with a big play, and then the goaltender finished the job.
Such is life right now for the rolling Anaheim Ducks.
Gibson made 37 saves and Smith-Pelly scored on a short-handed breakaway, leading the Ducks to a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
Smith-Pelly’s third goal of the season capped a breakaway with 8:28 left in regulation and 2 seconds remaining on a penalty on Sami Vatanen. He beat rookie goaltender Scott Darling between the pads after grabbing the puck at the Ducks’ blue line when Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook fell.
“I tried to fake him out and kind of get him moving and I’m not sure if he got a piece of it, but I’m happy it scooted through,” Smith-Pelly said.
He had to fight off teammate Andrew Cogliano for the puck after Seabrook lost it. Then it was clear sailing, with Seabrook unable to get into the play.
“I’ve got to do a better job of that,” Seabrook said. “It was just one of those plays.”
Anaheim used Smith-Pelly’s goal and Gibson’s first shutout of the season to record its eighth win in nine games.
It was the first regulation home loss for Chicago, which has dropped three of four overall.
Gibson’s biggest save came on Chicago captain Jonathan Toews in the deep slot 90 seconds into the third period.
“You just see him wide open and try to get something in front of it,” Gibson said.
The Ducks outhit the Blackhawks 37-16, helping Gibson to his second shutout in six NHL games.
“They can make something out of nothing so fast that if you don’t hit them and slow them down, they’re just going to skate,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Gibson and Darling dominated the first two periods. The Blackhawks had better opportunities against Gibson, who made a pair of big saves midway through the second on Brandon Saad, who roared in on a breakaway, and a follow-up shot by Andrew Shaw seconds later.
The 25-year-old Darling, who made his second start since being called up from the minors because of an injury to starter Corey Crawford, made a big body save on Jakob Silfverberg 5:16 into the third. Otherwise, Darling’s poise and positioning made every save look routine until Smith-Pelly scored on the 23rd of 25 Anaheim shots.
Chicago has scored more than two goals in only three of its first nine games.
“You have stretches sometimes,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “Maybe things aren’t going in for us, but we played the right way. We gave up the fewest chances all year.”
The tight-checking style of the game included Anaheim’s Mark Fistric depositing Chicago defenseman Michal Rozsival into the Ducks’ bench with a hip check 14 minutes into the first period. It took Rozsival about 10 seconds to climb off the floor and back onto the ice.
*Photo courtesy of Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images