Gibson stars for Ducks, ends Hurricanes’ winning streak at 5

The Ducks goalie made 51 saves in Anaheim’s 3-2 win

Ducks goaltender John Gibson catches the puck in front of Hurricanes forward Stefan Noesen during Anaheim’s 3-2 win Saturday in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — John Gibson leads the NHL in losses, as he has in two of the previous three seasons, but there was a time when the 29-year-old goalie was among the league’s best.

He reminded the Hurricanes of what once was on Saturday night.

The Ducks goalie made 51 saves, keeping Anaheim in the game despite a more than three-to-one shot differential, and the Hurricanes couldn’t convert on a late game power play in a 3-2 loss in front of 18,818 at PNC Arena.

“Pretty much everybody had a chance,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “There was a bunch of great opportunities, just didn’t put it in. … It’s just the way it went tonight.”

The Hurricanes, down 2-0 early in the third period, needed more than 44 minutes to finally solve Gibson.

In the seconds after Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg was left alone in front of the Carolina net for a bang-bang play to extend the Ducks’ lead, Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin flipped a puck up ice that Jesperi Kotkaniemi raced to and corralled. He moved in on Gibson and fired the puck by his blocker at 4:19 of the third period for his 11th goal of the year to halve the Ducks’ lead.

“Nice backspin on it,” Kotkaniemi said of Slavin’s pass. “I like that.”

But Anaheim again stretched the lead to two at 12:01 of the final frame when Troy Terry spun away from Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce and lifted a shot over the shoulder of Frederik Andersen (12 saves) to make it 3-1.

The Hurricanes responded, with Jesper Fast ending an 11-game goal drought by tipping a Pesce point shot at 13:35 to put Carolina within one.

“I like that we kept fighting,” Brind’Amour said.

The Hurricanes then got a power play with just over two minutes remaining when Sebastian Aho was tripped by Anaheim center Ryan Strome. But Gibson stood tall, making one of his best saves near the end when he denied Andrei Svechnikov on a rebound attempt by lunging to stop the puck.

“Svech had it on his stick in front all alone,” Brind’Amour said. “It got a little hectic there. I think we probably needed to settle down a little more.”

It was the third 50-save effort of Gibson’s season and the 18th time he’s seen at least 40 shots this year for the Ducks, who have only 19 wins but completed a season sweep of the Hurricanes.

“I think we can still bear down and bury those,” Slavin said. “I know I had one myself. It’s just the way the game goes sometimes.”

Despite being outshot 27-11 in the first 36-plus minutes of the game, Anaheim got on the board first when defenseman John Klingberg’s one-timer from the right circle beat Andersen at 16:18 of the second period for a 1-0 Ducks lead.

Anaheim extended its lead to two when Silvferberg scored off a Strome pass from behind the net at 4:09 of the third.

Just 13 seconds later, Kotkaniemi broke free to finally beat Gibson. It wasn’t, however, enough to come away with two points.

“Play that game 10 times, you’re gonna win nine of ’em,” Brind’Amour said.

Notes: Kotkaniemi has three goals in his last five games and seven points in eight games in February. … The Hurricanes had 90 all-situations shot attempts to Anaheim’s 30, including a 67-22 advantage at 5-on-5. … Carolina defenseman Brent Burns led the way with a 29-2 Corsi For performance — 93.55%.