The Seattle Kraken seem to have found their footing a quarter of the way through their inaugural NHL season, and against some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, no less.
Now, if they can only find a way to beat their Pacific Division rivals.
The Kraken, who have points in five of their past six games (4-1-1), will try for their first divisional victory in six attempts when they return home from a four-game trip to play the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night.
The Kraken snapped a six-game overall skid with victories at home against Washington and Carolina before embarking on a trip that saw them beat Florida and Buffalo, lose to two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay and fall in a shootout to Detroit.
The Kraken were without their top two scorers, Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle, in a 4-3 shootout defeat Wednesday against the Red Wings. Both were suffering from lower-body injuries.
“We know we’re missing a couple of our best offensive players, but that’s a situation you are going to have to deal with in this league,” Kraken forward Ryan Donato said. “That means the rest of us have to step up and score some goals.”
Donato did his part by scoring twice, including the tying goal with 5:44 remaining in regulation.
“That’s part of this league. You have to find a way to have others come into the lineup,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “A guy like Ryan Donato tonight got a little bit more of an opportunity, and he showed he can help us earn points. It’s nothing more than that. You don’t overthink it. The guys that are available are confident. They’re ready to go out and work together. It’s all about earning points.”
The tying goal was even more impressive considering Donato skated gingerly to the bench minutes earlier after blocking a shot with his left foot.
“It’s maybe one notch on the stat sheet for a shot block, but he had a helluva shot block before he scored a goal,” Hakstol said. “And those kinds of things are real important. He’s probably going to need an ice bag or two, but his compete level and his ability to go out and push through and produce at the right time was really good.”
The Kraken won’t have an easy task against the Western Conference-leading Oilers, who have won three in a row and feature the league’s top two point-producers in Leon Draisaitl (41) and Connor McDavid (40).
McDavid had a goal and three assists Wednesday in a 5-2 victory against visiting Pittsburgh.
The Oilers broke a 2-2 tie with three third-period goals.
“We were better in the third. We just turned the puck over far too much in the first couple (periods). We just couldn’t get any rhythm to our game whatsoever. We were just batting it around like it was a tennis ball,” Edmonton coach Dave Tippett said.
“Once we got to work, we still turned it over a few times, but we still worked to get it back in the third. We were opportunistic with some of the chances we had; we had some good chances and we capitalized on them.”
This will be the second meeting between the Kraken and Oilers. Host Edmonton won 5-2 on Nov. 1 as Draisaitl had two goals and two assists.
–Field Level Media