The Anaheim Ducks will be extra protective of goalie John Gibson when they visit the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.
Anaheim beat the Jets 4-1 in the season opener for both teams on Oct. 13, and there was plenty of action between whistles.
One scrum occurred after Winnipeg forward Andrew Copp ran into Gibson midway through the third period, crumbling Gibson to the ice.
Gibson finished the game but sat out two nights later against the visiting Minnesota Wild, who scored with 7.2 seconds left in the third period to win 2-1.
Ducks coach Dallas Eakins called the collision with Gibson “a dirty play” by Copp.
“That guy (Copp) knows exactly what he’s doing,” Eakins said the next day. “He’s going to take the goalie. Our goalie is playing quite well. That’s what he’s going to do. He (Copp) gets a two-minute penalty and we lose our goalie.”
Gibson earned his second win of the season in a 3-2 overtime victory against the Calgary Flames on Monday to open the four-game trip.
He had the night off Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers, and the Ducks lost 6-5 after holding a one-goal lead to start the third period.
Gibson should be rested and ready to take on the Jets, who still are looking for their first win after three games.
The Jets also are coming off a 6-5 loss on Tuesday night, but they squandered a 5-3 lead with five minutes remaining against the Wild before losing in overtime to close a three-game trip to start the season.
“That’s the way hockey goes,” Winnipeg forward Mark Scheifele said. “It’s going to test you, it’s going to push you, but it’s about the guys that fight back. We’ll regroup and be better next game.”
The Jets will need to clean up their penalty-kill unit, which has allowed seven goals in 15 short-handed situations this season.
They’ll be against an Anaheim power-play unit that’s been surprisingly effective through the first four games, scoring four times in 12 man-advantage situations.
The Ducks finished last in the NHL on the power play last season at 8.9 percent, the lowest since the league began keeping track of the stat in 1977-78.
After serving as a healthy scratch the first three games, Anaheim forward Sam Steel scored twice in his season debut on Tuesday against the Oilers.
“I was excited to get in, especially at home,” the Alberta native said. “I’ve been working really hard to try and get into the lineup.”
The Ducks also have received some unexpected offense from defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (three goals, two assists), but are waiting for others to contribute.
Max Comtois, who led the Ducks with 16 goals and 33 points in 55 games last season, has not recorded a point through the first four games, while skilled forwards Trevor Zegras, Ryan Getzlaf, Isac Lundestrom and Troy Terry are seeking their first goals.
Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers and Blake Wheeler — three of the top four goal-scorers for the Jets last season — also are seeking their first goals this season.
“It’s been an eventful first three games, and we have lots of room to get better,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “We’ll clean up some things, obviously.”
–Field Level Media