Boyle thrilled after making NHL debut

American Hockey League

PHILADELPHIA — All-Star goaltender John Gibson couldn’t play because of an unspecified upper-body injury and Chad Johnson gave up four goals on 14 shots in the first period, so 26-year-old Kevin Boyle got a chance to make his NHL debut Saturday for the Ducks.

Boyle made the cross-country journey from San Diego and didn’t look out of place in the least. He was poised and confident while stepping into the chaos that has enveloped the reeling Ducks, losers of seven in a row and 19 of 21 after a 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

While his new teammates walked through the postgame dressing room with their chins on their chests, buried in thought, Boyle smiled broadly and sounded a joyful tone after making 24 saves in his first NHL game after he was recalled from the AHL’s Gulls.

Boyle’s parents drove the 45 minutes from the family’s central New Jersey home to Philadelphia to meet him for dinner after he arrived from California on Friday night. His brother and sister-in-law made the 90-minute trek from Washington and the Boyle family then celebrated the 26-year-old’s debut.

Coach Randy Carlyle said he considered starting Boyle rather than Johnson.

“We thought about it,” Carlyle said. “It was a real consideration.”

Boyle said he was prepared to play. Or as prepared as he could be under the circumstances.

“You go in without any real pressure on you,” Boyle said of replacing Johnson to start the second period. “You’re just going in and trying to do whatever you can to try to get the team in the game at that point. A lot of the pressure is off you.

“You always have to be ready as a goalie. To be honest, I think we did a lot of good things in that game, especially starting in the second period. We had a lot of great scoring chances. Their goalie (Carter Hart) made a lot of great saves.”

Carlyle was impressed.

“I thought he showed some composure,” Carlyle said. “He didn’t look nervous at all.”

Was it enough to earn another start Wednesday, when the Ducks host the Vancouver Canucks? Carlyle said Gibson’s status was day-to-day and it was too early to determine which of the three goalies would face the Canucks as the Ducks attempt to end their skid.

“That’s off in the future,” Carlyle said.

FACTS AND FIGURES

Cam Fowler tied Ruslan Salei for the most games played by a Ducks defenseman with 594. Fowler can break Salei’s franchise record Wednesday against the Canucks. Salei played for the Ducks from 1996 to 2006. He died in a plane crash that killed 44 in Russia in 2011. …

Gulls coach Dallas Eakins became the 21st coach in AHL history to record 300 victories in his career when San Diego defeat the Ontario Reign on Friday. Eakins is 300-199-27-34 with the Gulls (2015-present) and the Toronto Marlies (2009-13).

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