CALGARY — With the playoffs approaching, John Gibson and the Anaheim Ducks are heating up.
Gibson stopped 29 shots as the Ducks beat the Calgary Flames 4-0 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight win.
"He's found another level right now in terms of his preparation, in terms of how he's managing himself in the net," said Anaheim's Andrew Cogliano, whose short-handed goal 12:51 into the first period proved to be the winner. "He looks pretty confident."
Gibson, who improved to 12-3-1 in his last 16 starts, earned his fourth shutout of the season and 16th of his NHL career.
"Your goalie is paid to stop the puck. He shouldn't let any in," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said with a smile. "That's the theory coaches always go to, but it's unrealistic to look at it that way.
"We know how strong Gibson's been."
The Flames held the edge in territorial play, outshooting Anaheim 11-5 after the first period and 23-11 following the second. But it was the Ducks who were opportunistic, leading 3-0 heading into the third and in control.
"I don't think we gave them too many great chances," said Cogliano. "They had a couple pushes here and there but for the most part we didn't give them a whole lot and did a good job on limiting guys like (Johnny) Gaudreau and (Sean) Monahan."
It was a familiar script for Calgary of late. Start fast, outshoot the opponent by a wide margin early but don't score and eventually fell behind.
"It's been a tough week," said centre Matt Stajan, who played in his 1,000th career NHL game. "We've come out strong in every game and we just can't get that lead.
"We're chasing games."
The Flames have dropped four straight and with seven games to go sit seven points out of the final wild-card berth.
"They buried their chances and for whatever reason, we're squeezing it a bit and can't seem to get one," said Calgary captain Mark Giordano.
Gibson's finest work came in the third, kicking aside a Dougie Hamilton one-timer before stopping Gaudreau on a breakaway. The Flames fell to 15-18-4 at the Scotiabank Saddledome and were lustily booed off the ice afterwards.
"You don't want that at home," said Monahan. "We work hard and lay it on the line every night.
"Getting booed is not a good feeling,"
Francois Beauchemin had a goal and an assist for Anaheim (38-24-12, 88 points). Ondrej Kase and Hamphus Lindholm also scored as the Ducks moved ahead of Los Angeles into third in the Pacific Division.
Mike Smith got the start in goal for Calgary (35-30-10, 80 points) but was replaced after 40 minutes, allowing three goals on 11 shots. Rookie David Rittich stopped four of the five shots he faced in relief.
One of Calgary's issues has been the power play, which went 0-for-2 to fall to 1-for-35 in the last 12 games. And it was while the Flames were on the man advantage that Anaheim took the lead.
Less than a minute after Hamilton put a shot off the crossbar, Hamilton and Mark Giordano got tangled up in their own corner, allowing the puck to squirt free. Cogliano corralled it and made a nice move on Smith for a short-handed goal.
"Everything gets magnified when you're not scoring goals," said Giordano. "They really got some momentum when they scored the short handed goal.
"That takes a little bit out of you."
Anaheim made it 2-0 at 8:58 of the second when Kase broke in off the wing on a one-on-one, spun round and put a backhand shot through Smith's pads.
The Flames outshot Anaheim 29-16 overall.
Notes: Stajan has played 555 games with the Flames... Anaheim's Jason Chimera, who shook Stajan's hand at centre during warm-up, played in his 1,100 career contest . . . Flames scratches included TJ Brodie (upper body) and Matthew Tkachuk (upper body)... Josh Manson (upper body) missed his first game of the season for the Ducks.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press