Battle of backups when Rangers host Ducks
NEW YORK -- A couple of backup goalies could get their chance to perform on the big stage Tuesday night, when the New York Rangers host the Anaheim Ducks at Madison Square Garden.
The Ducks will be playing the second game of a back-to-back road set after earning their fourth straight win Monday by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-2, on Monday night. The Rangers were off Monday after falling to the visiting Vegas Golden Knights, 4-3, on Sunday afternoon.
Both teams likely tipped their hands Monday regarding their goalie decisions for Tuesday
By starting John Gibson for the third straight game -- Gibson earned the win against the Penguins by making 28 saves -- the Ducks (19-11-5) all but ensured Chad Johnson will make his debut with the club against the Rangers. Johnson was claimed off waivers from the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 11, two days after Anaheim lost backup goalie Ryan Miller to a sprained knee.
Once Johnson takes the ice for the Ducks, he'll have suited up for more than a quarter of the 31-team NHL. Anaheim will be the eighth team for whom Johnson has played in a career that began with the Rangers in December 2009.
"At the end of the day, I look at it that I'm in the NHL," Johnson told The Athletic on Sunday. "I've had a 10-year career from my first game with the Rangers when I was 23 and I'm 32 now. I look at it -- there's obviously more that I always feel like I have and can offer if it was the right situations that I get myself into. But I'm OK with it.
"I have a good living. I'm in the NHL. Hey, somebody always wants me. When that stops, then that stops."
At 22-year-old Rangers backup Alexander Georgiev has had a far less circuitous career than Johnson thus far. He's also been far busier lately. Georgiev was recalled Monday from Hartford of the American hockey League. He was sent there Dec. 3 and played in five straight games while New York played just four games, all of which were started by Hall of Fame-bound Henrik Lundqvist.
"It was great to get that kind of workload and just get into the rhythm," Georgiev told Newsday following practice Monday. "It's a bit easier to get into the game when you play every few days."
With the 36-year-old Lundqvist sidelined with what the Rangers (14-13-5) termed a maintenance day Monday, there's a good chance Georgiev will get into an NHL game Tuesday. Head coach David Quinn didn't announce a starter but said Georgiev would play "soon." Georgiev hasn't played for New York since Dec. 1, when he took the defeat after recording 36 saves in a 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
Johnson is 1-1-0 in three career games against the Rangers. Georgiev earned the win in his lone appearance against the Ducks on Nov. 1, when he stopped 28 shots in New York's 3-2 shootout victory.
Updated December 17, 2018