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Anaheim Ducks G John Gibson stellar in shutout of Chicago Blackhawks

By Joseph D'Hippolito, The Sports Xchange
Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson stops a shot off of his shoulder. Gibson produced a shutout against the Blackhawks Thursday night. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/4e5bba5c65fa9b502a8fdbd4983b7039/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson stops a shot off of his shoulder. Gibson produced a shutout against the Blackhawks Thursday night. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Goaltender John Gibson used one of his best performances of the season to draw the Anaheim Ducks closer to their fifth straight Pacific Division title.

Gibson stopped 37 shots to earn his sixth shutout of the season in the Ducks' 4-0 rout of the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night at the Honda Center.

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"I thought he played outstanding," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "We left him high and dry in some situations, and he made some big stops for us. That's the most encouraging thing for us."

Gibson made his third consecutive start after missing 15 of 16 games because of a lower-body injury.

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"I just got hurt. I didn't forget how to play," Gibson said. "Sometimes, people might think you lose it or something. But you put in a lot when you're hurt to come back and not miss a step."

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Anaheim leads the second-place Edmonton Oilers by four points, and they need just one more point to seal the division crown. The Ducks end the regular season Sunday at home against the Los Angeles Kings, while the Oilers finish with two games against the Canucks -- in Vancouver on Saturday night and in Edmonton on Sunday.

Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, Rickard Rakell and Chris Wagner scored for the Ducks (45-23-13), who won their third successive game and 10th in the past 13.

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"You want to go into the playoffs on a high," Perry said. "You want to be at the top of your game. That's what we've been talking about all season, just get into the playoffs and start trending upward. We've been doing that lately."

Goalie Corey Crawford made 22 saves for the Central Division champion Blackhawks, who have lost three in succession and five of seven. Chicago (50-23-8) finishes the regular season Saturday night in Los Angeles, and a victory against the Kings would set a team record for road wins with 25.

"It was a tough game," Blackhawks left winger Ryan Hartman said. "We let them dictate the play a lot. You don't want to think too hard about games like these and carry them on your shoulders going into the playoffs."

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With the Stanley Cup playoffs starting next week, the Blackhawks rested defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, center Jonathan Toews and right winger Marian Hossa.

"For the most part, we've got a lot of guys who are trying to fill positions and present themselves to the coaches for a spot in the lineup," right winger Patrick Kane said. "I don't think there are any motivation problems at all."

Perry's power-play goal gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead 6:53 into the game. Sami Vatanen began a sequence of quick passes by sending the puck from the blue line to Rakell at the bottom of the left circle.

Rakell one-timed a pass to Perry near the crease and Perry deflected the puck inside the right post for his 19th goal. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville challenged the call, which video reply upheld.

The Blackhawks had a chance to tie the score with about 4 1/2 minutes left in the second period but Gibson used his right leg pad while prone to block Tomas Jurco's wrist shot at the left post. Jurco started the scoring chance by passing to Nick Schmaltz as he fell after catching an edge on the ice, then received Schmaltz's return pass.

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About a minute and a half after Gibson stopped Jurco, Wagner used his sixth goal to extend Anaheim's lead to 2-0. Ondrej Kase received Logan Shaw's pass behind the net, eluded Blackhawks defender Michal Rozsival and passed to Wagner, who converted a wrist shot between Crawford's spreading legs at 17:08 of the second period.

Kesler added his 22nd goal 4:42 into the third period. Andrew Cogliano backhanded a pass from behind the net to Kesler, whose rising wrist shot in front of the crease settled under the crossbar.

Rakell's team-high 33rd goal finished the scoring with 5:17 to play. Positioned in the slot, Rakell deflected Ryan Getzlaf's shot from the blue line.

NOTES: Chicago scratched D Duncan Keith, D Brent Seabrook, RW Marian Hossa, C Jonathan Toews and LW Vinnie Hinostroza. ... The Blackhawks recalled D Gustav Forsling from AHL Rockford on Wednesday. ... Blackhawks C Artem Anisimov will not join the team for its regular-season finale Saturday night in Los Angeles. Anisimov is skating in Chicago after injuring his left ankle March 14. ... Blackhawks D Niklas Hjalmarsson remained in Chicago to attend to his pregnant wife. ... Ducks GM Bob Murray said before the game that D Cam Fowler would be out two to six weeks. Fowler sustained a knee injury after a hit from Calgary Flames D Mark Giordano on Tuesday night. ... Besides Fowler, Anaheim scratched D Hampus Lindholm, D Korbinian Holzer, RW Jared Boll and C Nate Thompson. ... Ducks D Jaycob Megna made his NHL debut after being recalled from AHL San Diego earlier Thursday.

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