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Gibbons scores in debut, helps Pens beat Ducks

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- It took more than two periods for either team to score, but an unlikely source opened the scoring and helped lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks at Consol Energy Center on Monday.

Rookie center Brian Gibbons collected a goal and picked up an assist during a memorable NHL debut.

"I'm just taking it all in right now," Gibbons said. "I don't usually show a lot of emotion but on the inside I'm pretty happy."

For the first time all season, the Penguins entered the third period in a scoreless tie, but the deadlock didn't last much longer.

Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin corralled the puck and skated laps around the Ducks, then laced a perfect backhand pass to Gibbons. The rookie, positioned in the high slot, took the pass and wristed the puck into the net at 3:52 for his first career NHL goal on his first career shot.

"The wingers that were out there were just watching Malkin skate instead of coming back and protecting the house, and consequently Gibbons is wide open and he gets his first goal," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Just over a minute later, Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta threw a floating wrist shot from the left point that fluttered toward the net. Penguins center Brandon Sutter was left unattended in front of the net, allowing him to tip the floating shot past Anaheim goaltender Viktor Fasth.

"It was one of those games tonight where a shot was not getting by the goalie unless there was an obstruction or vision was taken away," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Gibbons picked up an assist on Sutter's tally.

Less than 30 seconds later, the Penguins left a man in front of their net, Ryan Getzlaf. The Anaheim center easily took a pass, waited out Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and then wristed the puck up and into the net.

The Ducks had a golden opportunity to knot the game at 2 while on the power play, but they couldn't capitalize despite some quality chances.

"They could have easily tied the game up and (it's) a much different story," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said.

Crosby, the NHL's leading scorer, finished the game's story, wristing a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle that eluded Fasth and found the upper left corner of the net at 7:56. It was Crosby's 10th goal of the season.

Fleury made 27 saves to earn his 12th win of the season, while Fasth turned aside 24 Pittsburgh shots in defeat.

"They played a good game," Fasth said. "I think we could have played better, including myself."

The game featured the NHL's two winningest active coaches. Bylsma tops the list with a winning percentage of .668 in 339 career games, while the Boudreau has a .659 winning percentage in 458 career games.

The game also marked the last appearance in Pittsburgh for a future Hall of Famer, Teemu Selanne. The Anaheim right winger, who is retiring after the season, was held without a point for just the second time in 22 career games against the Penguins.

In addition, the night marked the return of Pittsburgh defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who was traded from the Penguins to the Ducks in February. Lovejoy picked up an assist and finished plus-1.

NOTES: Pittsburgh LW Jussi Jokinen appeared in his 600th career game. ... Since the Consol Energy Center opened for the 2010-11 season, the Penguins have the most home wins of any team in the NHL. Before Monday, the Ducks were one of just four teams (San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues) that the Penguins had not defeated at home during that span. ... Scratches for the Penguins were C Zach Sill, RW Matt D'Agostini and D Robert Bortuzzo. Scratches for the Ducks were LW Patrick Maroon and D Mark Fistric. ... The Penguins and Ducks will be in action again Wednesday. The Penguins will be in Washington to play the Capitals, and the Ducks will host the New Jersey Devils. ... The official attendance was 18,614.
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