After stoning the Manchester Monarchs in the opening round of the American Hockey League playoffs, the John Gibson Show hit the road to Canada's northeast Tuesday and the Admirals goalie played a starring role, stopping 42 shots in a 3-1 win over the St. John's IceCaps.
The win, before a Mile One Centre sellout crowd of 6,287, gives Norfolk a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal. Game 2 is at 6 p.m. EDT tonight.
Gibson isn't merely hot. He's searing, like an acetylene torch.
The former world junior gold medalist and world championship bronze medalist for the United States is now 4-1 in the playoffs, with a brilliant 1.34 goals against average and an even more ridiculous .955 save percentage.
"I'm just playing my game right now," said the Pittsburgh product, 20, in perfect "Aw, shucks" form. "The team is clearing out screens in front of me.
"You have to be on top of your game in the playoffs, and I'm just trying to play the best I can play."
After Norfolk grabbed a 1-0 first-period lead, St. John's pushed hard in the second, but Gibson was there to stop all 18 shots he faced.
Nic Kerdiles scored twice for the Admirals, including one into an empty net. John Kurtz netted the game-winner. Andrew Gordon had the lone IceCaps' goal.
A miscommunication between Hutchinson and IceCaps defenseman Zach Redmond resulted in Kerdiles's first goal of the game in the first period. The puck was cleared into the St. John's zone, and stopped by Hutchinson.
However, the St. John's goalie and Redmond got their signals crossed and the result was a turnover, with Kerdiles connecting for his second goal of the playoffs.
Following a scoreless second period, Gordon got the IceCaps' on the scoreboard, deflecting a Josh Morrissey shot past Gibson one second after Norfolk's Chris Wagner left the penalty box.
However, Kurtz got the game-winner 3:40 after Gordon tied the game, when he banged in a loose puck in the crease after some hard work by Zack Stortini created a turnover in the IceCaps' zone.
The rest was up to Gibson.
"I thought we had decent traffic (in front of Gibson), but he made the saves," IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge said. "He (Gibson) has the numbers he has in the playoffs for a reason."
"He played great tonight... he's played great all playoffs," St. John's defenseman Will O'Neill said. "He's a good goalie. Second and third opportunities (on rebounds) are how we're going to beat him."
As a franchise, dating back to the days when the Admirals won the 2012 Calder Cup, Norfolk is now 14-1 in its last 15 post-season games.
That includes a 3-1 series win over the top-ranked Monarchs in the first round of the playoffs last week.
"We can't be thinking about any streaks like that," Gibson said. "Our primary focus is winning our next game, and then the one after that."
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