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Anaheim Ducks

Anaheim Ducks

PITTSBURGH — John Gibson grew up in Pittsburgh. He downplayed his annual homecoming Saturday night, but his teammates with the Anaheim Ducks understood this wasn’t just any game and it wasn’t just any arena for the 24-year-old who has helped keep them afloat during an uneven first half of the season.

What better way to thank Gibson for hanging in there than helping him shut down the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. Gibson turned aside 29 shots and the Ducks pounced on several sloppy mistakes by the Penguins in an easy 4-0 victory.

“It might sound silly, but for us, it was important,” said Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler, who capped the scoring with his fourth goal of the season. “Mainly because of what John’s done for us all season. I mean, he’s stood on his head multiple times and given us opportunities to win hockey games.”

Gibson didn’t quite have to go that far in picking up his first victory in his hometown. The Penguins got to him for five goals last year and six in the 2015-16 season opener. They didn’t get one by him this time.

While he wasn’t particularly busy, Gibson’s night included a sprawling blocker save on Sidney Crosby in the second period that preserved a three-goal lead.

“Just throw something over there and hope (the puck) hits it,” Gibson said.

Rickard Rakell, Andrew Cogliano and Ondrej Kase also scored for the Ducks, who wrapped up a six-game road trip with a flourish.

“I think the last few games, we’ve obviously been playing a lot better, especially defensively,” Gibson said. “I think we’re kind of getting in our zone and feeling confident. Definitely trending in the right direction.”

The Penguins not so much.

Matt Murray made 10 saves on 13 shots before he was pulled early in the second period after Cogliano turned a short-handed breakaway into his fifth goal. The Penguins have lost five of seven and are one point out of last place in the Metropolitan Division.

“We made some big mistakes,” Crosby said. “Sometimes you can make those and get away with them and tonight they were big ones, some Grade A chances that we ended up giving up the other way.”

Two days after an emotionally charged shootout victory over Columbus that the Penguins hoped would be the start of a surge needed to get back in the mix, they instead fell into an all-too familiar pattern of questionable decision-making that ended with their goaltenders exposed and an early deficit.

“When you go down two goals early, it makes for an uphill battle and there’s been a lot of those lately,” coach Mike Sullivan said.

Kase pounced when a lazy and inaccurate cross-ice pass by Kris Letang intended for teammate Brian Dumoulin instead hit the boards behind Dumoulin and bounced toward the middle of the ice. Kase jumped on it, split Dumoulin and Letang and flipped a shot by Murray to put Anaheim up just 3:10 into the game.

Rakell doubled the lead when he took the puck away from newly acquired defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and slipped a shot by Murray that trickled between the goalie’s pads just past the midway point of the first period.

The Penguins had an early power-play chance in the second, but the momentum vanished quickly. Brandon Montour’s clear for Anaheim skipped by Crosby and went right to Cogliano. He broke in alone and beat Murray between the legs to make it 3-0 at 3:42, and Murray skated to the bench in favor of Tristan Jarry.

While Jarry allowed only Fowler’s power-play goal with just 3.4 seconds to go in the second, the damage was already done, leaving the 502nd consecutive sellout crowd at PPG Paints Arena to boo another listless night.

“We show signs of it where we put some games together where we’re playing to the identity that this group has had success with,” Sullivan said. “But we haven’t done it nearly consistently enough this year.”

NOTES: The Ducks finished their road trip 3-2-1. … Anaheim went 1 for 2 on the power play. The Penguins were 0 for 2 with the man advantage. … Pittsburgh scratched D Matt Hunwick and C Dominik Simon. … Anaheim scratched Ds Korbinian Holzer and Andy Welinski and F Dennis Rasmussen.

UP NEXT

Ducks: Begin a three-game homestand next Wednesday against Vegas.

Penguins: Face Columbus for the second time in less than a week on Wednesday. Pittsburgh beat the Blue Jackets 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 21.

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Mike Smith

Mike Smith

Mike Smith made 43 saves and the Calgary Flames ended a 25-game skid at Honda Center with a 2-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

Calgary got goals from Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund. It hadn’t won at Anaheim since Jan. 19, 2004.

The game was scoreless until late in the second period, when Kevin Bieksa’s cross-checking minor gave the Flames their fourth power play. Calgary was unsuccessful until Johnny Gaudreau fired a cross-ice pass from above the far-side circle to Kris Versteeg on the far post. Versteeg’s initial shot was blocked by Cam Fowler, but the puck rebounded to Monahan, who beats a leaning John Gibson.

The Ducks carried the play in the third. Midway through the period, Ryan Getzlaf lost a battle along the boards. The puck got through to Michael Frolik, who skated it up the ice. Frolik sent a pass through the legs of Brandon Montour to an on-rushing Backlund, who beat Gibson top-shelf.

Smith survived a mad scramble in the final minute to preserve his 34th career shutout and first with Calgary.

Cheap Francois Beauchemin Jersey China.

Defenseman Francois Beauchemin has signed a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks, joining the team for the third time in his 14-year NHL career.

The one-year deal will pay Beauchemin $1 million and contains $500,000 in potential performance bonuses, according to TVA Sports.

Beauchemin, 37, previously played for the Ducks from 2005 to 2009 and 2011 to 2015 before spending the past two seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. He won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007.

He became a free agent in June when the Avalanche, looking to free up a protection spot ahead of the expansion draft, bought out the final year of his contract.

Beauchemin, 37, had a cap hit of $4.5 million, and his no-movement clause would have necessitated the Avs protecting him. By exercising the $1.5 million buyout, they were able to shield a younger player from the Vegas Golden Knights.

In his second season with Colorado, Beauchemin had five goals and 13 assists. He has posted 73 goals and 198 assists in 836 career NHL games and has also played for the Montreal Canadiens, Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs.