There’s two ways to look at it: Is the Christmas break coming at a bad time, with the Kraken going 4-0-and-2 over their last six games, or will it squash the momentum they’ve established following Saturday evening’s 3-2 win in Anaheim against the Ducks.
Either way they’ll take it. Seattle has some injured players who could use the extra few days to get healthy as the team rests before heading to take on the Flames in Calgary on Wednesday night.
Kraken center Yanni Gourde played in his 500th career NHL game.
The Ducks lost a key centerman two nights ago when rookie Leo Carlsson went down against the Calgary Flames with a sprained right MCL, but they got one back on Saturday with Trevor Zegras returning to the Anaheim line-up. Then again, having not played since early November, it would definitely take Zegras a bit of time to “find his legs”, a bonus factor for the Kraken.
Seattle took advantage of the struggling SoCal team in the 1st period. The offense kicked in when the team’s (then) leading scorer lit the lamp at 13:26 on the power play. That would be Oliver Bjorkstrand with his 11th goal of the season. He had plenty of time to aim and fire from the high slot and go top shelf on Ducks goalie Lukas Dostal.
Just less than three minutes later D-man Vince Dunn, the Kraken’s (then) 2nd leading scorer, would convert a beautiful saucer pass from Matty Beniers to make it two-nothing Seattle. Dunn was alone on the left doorstep with a gaping net.
Joey Daccord was solid at the other end, making a couple of key saves, including with the Ducks shorthanded.
The Kraken shifted into cruise control during the second period. Not a good thing in this case. They survived with the lead despite being outshot 9-3 over the 20 minutes.
The lone goal belonged to Frank Vatrano, the Ducks leading scorer, who ripped home a slapper from the slot following a scramble off an offensive zone draw. Daccord had absolutely no chance on the rocket through a partial screen.
The goal came on the power play with Brandon Tanev off for a double-minor for high sticking. Seattle killed off the 2nd half of it.
Nursing a one-goal lead the Kraken would need to step up their game in the 3rd.
Seattle did just that in the best manner possible; they added to the lead.
At the tail-end of a 3-on-2 rush, Tomas Tatar avoided the trailing back-checkers, held the puck around traffic on his way to the low, right slot, and buried a backhander. The Slovakian had his 2nd point of the night, as did Beniers with his 2nd assist. Dunn added his third point of the game on the play.
Tatar, the 33-year-old “new guy”, acquired in a trade from the Avalanche last week, gave himself his 4th point in just his 4th game with the Kraken.
Seattle needed to hold on to a two-goal lead to give themselves a six-game point streak.
The Ducks wouldn’t go away easily. Zegras scored a highlight reel goal at the 14:01 mark with what’s called the “Michigan goal”. The lacrosse style effort involves lifting the puck up on the blade of one’s stick and stuffing it into the net over the goaltender’s shoulder. (Why it’s not called the “Mike Legg“, after the young man who first did it for the Wolverines during an NCAA playoff game in the mid-90’s, I’m not sure)
Connor Bedard of the Chicago Blackhawks did the same thing earlier Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.
A closing scramble for Anaheim fell short. They were a bit late getting their goalie out for the extra attacker and the Kraken killed off the final seconds and moved to 4-0-and-2 in their last six games.
Shots on goal finished 34-22 in favor of the Ducks. Power plays: Seattle 1-for-1, Anaheim 1-for-3.
Kraken 3 Stars:
1) Vince Dunn – A goal and 2 assists. Took over the team lead in scoring with 28 points. 3 shots in 22:08 of ice time.
2) Tomas Tatar – The game winning goal, a beauty, and an assist, three hits, and plus-2 in 14:32.
3) Matty Beniers – A beautiful feed on the Dunn goal, another assist on the game winner, 2 shots in 16:42
— Kraken Line Changes A Reflection Of Team’s Depth Issue