Kraken look to keep road momentum going vs. Leafs

After opening their seven-game road trip with a victory over the Edmonton Oilers, the Seattle Kraken will try to maintain momentum against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

The Kraken overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Oilers 5-2 on Tuesday night, while the Maple Leafs took a 6-5 shootout loss on Tuesday at home against the St. Louis Blues.

“The best part of our game and the most important part: we checked throughout our lineup (Tuesday),” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said.

The Kraken ended a three-game losing streak by defeating the New York Islanders 4-1 at home on Sunday before embarking on their trip.

“After Christmas, every game is going to get tougher and tougher,” said Yanni Gourde, who scored one goal for Seattle on Tuesday. “Every opponent you’re going to face is going to be better structurally. You’re going to have to fight your way to the net, fight your way to each goal. That’s what creates confidence.”

The Maple Leafs had their six-game home winning streak end on Tuesday despite a goal and an assist from Auston Matthews, who has 501 career points in 445 games. He is the fastest Maple Leaf to reach 500 points. Mats Sundin and Rick Vaive each took 495 games.

Matthews (25 years, 108 days) also became the fourth-youngest active player at the time of his 500th career point, trailing Sidney Crosby (22 years, 244 days), Connor McDavid (24 years, 35 days) and Alex Ovechkin (24 years, 140 days).

Mitchell Marner could soon join Matthews at the 500-point plateau as early as Thursday. He picked up an assist on Tuesday and has 498 career points in 465 games.

The Maple Leafs had to overcome three two-goal deficits before tying the game in the third period on Michael Bunting’s second goal of the game to force overtime and then a shootout.

The Maple Leafs fell behind after allowing a shorthanded goal and two power-play goals to the injury-depleted Blues.

“Some competitive parts weren’t there at times, and sometimes they were,” Matthews said. “You could see them take over the game. … I think there were just too many lost battles, they were heavy on pucks and they were competing. Trading chances, I don’t think that’s the way we want to play.”

Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe wasn’t happy with the result, but did admire his team’s resilience.

“Special teams were a mess in the first period,” Keefe said. “But our power play comes back to tie the game. So I like the way they responded at a key moment in the game.”

Matt Murray is expected to start in goal against the Kraken.

Ilya Samsonov played in goal Tuesday, and his bid for a club-record 10th straight home victory to open a season was thwarted.

“Tough game for me again,” Samsonov said. “But I believe in my skill. I know how it works, I believe in my teammates.”

Kraken defenseman Adam Larsson will be going for a team-record point streak on Thursday. With an assist on Tuesday, he now has points in seven straight games to match Jordan Eberle’s franchise mark. Larsson has recorded one goal and six assists over the stretch.

“I really don’t care about points,” Larsson said. “It’s good to see guys get rewarded, but I just want to win. The way we’re doing it right now is pretty fun.”

–Field Level Media