Gibson brilliant as Ducks down Jets in season opener

The Winnipeg Jets’ first trip to the United States in nearly 20 months did not go well Wednesday night.

John Gibson stopped 33 of 34 shots and Mason McTavish scored in his NHL debut as the Anaheim Ducks downed Winnipeg 4-1 in the opening game of the 2021-22 season for both clubs.

Kevin Shattenkirk, Mason McTavish, Adam Henrique and Rickard Rakell scored goals for Anaheim, while Kyle Connor replied with the Jets only marker in the loss.

The Jets generated a ton of scoring chances, but it was a disastrous night for their special teams. The Jets’ power play was 0-for-5 on the night, while they also surrendered a pair of power play goals to the Ducks.

“We had five straight faceoff losses on the winning goal,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “I liked our power play. I liked the chances that we got. The mentality of putting the puck to the net and he made a couple big saves.

“Our penalty kill probably got what it deserved. We ended up in our end in structure far more than we needed to be and really there was more dangerous stuff actually later.”

The Jets ended up outshooting the Ducks 34-22.

“There was a lot of good things in that game for us,” said Josh Morrissey. “A lot to build off of and that’s what it’s all about this time of year. It’s game one – you don’t make the playoffs or achieve anything day one. Obviously you want to win, but there was a lot of good things there for us, and some things we can clean up and do a little bit better at.”

19-year-old rookie Cole Perfetti was held pointless in his NHL debut. He was a minus-one, with one hit in 9:49 of ice time.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Perfetti. “It’s a little different than how you dream of it as a kid. You dream of scoring the game winning goal or scoring your first goal and winning, but at the end of the day – I just played in the National Hockey League.

“That’s something I’ll never forget.”

Mark Scheifele missed the season opening contest while serving the final game of his suspension from last season’s playoffs, and with Scheifele now due to return, it will likely push Perfetti back to the AHL with the Manitoba Moose.

“I like a whole lot of his game,” Maurice said. “He competes on pucks. He makes good plays with pucks. It’s not whether he’s good enough, it’s whether it makes the most sense.”

READ MORE: Winnipeg Jets sign Svechnikov, assign Heinola & Suess to Manitoba Moose

The Jets carried the bulk of the play early on thanks to a pair of early power plays but were unable to get one past Gibson.

At the other end, Gibson’s main competition for the starting netminder gig on the US Olympic team was beaten on Anaheim’s first shot of the game. Kevin Shattenkirk’s seeing-eye shot from the boards found its way past Connor Hellebuyck just over six minutes into the first.

Seven minutes later it was McTavish, one of the many young players in the lineup for the rebuilding Ducks, who notched his first career tally.

Kyle Connor got the Jets on the board early in the second, burying a one-timer on a nice feed from captain Blake Wheeler.

But then the Ducks power play, which last season was the worst the NHL had ever seen since they started keeping track of power play percentage in 1977, scored a pair of goals to put the game out of reach.

First, it was Adam Henrique deflecting one past Hellebuyck late in the second. That was followed by Rickard Rakell beating the Jets goalie with a deflection in the third period.

READ MORE: ‘Dream come true’ day for Winnipeg Jets rookie Cole Perfetti

The two sides will meet again October 21st in Winnipeg for the Jets’ home opener.

The Jets three-game season opening road trip continues on Saturday against the San Jose Sharks.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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