Kraken 3rd-line center Yanni Gourde is the poster boy for the type of confidence the hockey club is riding at the moment.
His personal streak of a-goal-a-game for the last three is symbolic of the team’s collective confidence.
Gourde’s hard work has paid off. He never got down or seemed to grip his stick while going through a 17-game goalless streak. That’s because the veteran forward and two-time Stanley Cup champion knew that he could help, and was helping, in other ways.
His patience has been rewarded.
While depth scoring is important, Gourde’s main purpose isn’t to light the lamp. It’s to be a catalyst emotionally, be a leader, play sound defensively, win draws in big moments if possible, be a solid penalty killer, and work his butt off while being a pain in the ass to the opponent.
He’s a thorn in the enemy’s side and he has been know to score big goals in big moments. For the Kraken, that came on May 2nd, 2023 when Gourde scored the overtime winner in Game-1 of Round-2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Dallas against the Stars. His whirling dervish, unassisted one-timer on a loose puck gave Seattle a 5-4 win and set up the series to go seven games.
This regular season he’s been workmanlike, but clearly hadn’t planned on going almost a month-and-a-half without potting a goal.
Gourde’s last tally prior to New Year’s Day was back on November 22nd at Climate Pledge Arena during a 7-1 dismantling of the lowly San Jose Sharks.
It took some Winter Classic magic at T-Mobile Park to get him going again.
Actually, it was simply Gourde being Gourde. Acting as what’s called the F1, and in this case the only forechecker, Gourde picked the pocket of Vegas forward Paul Cotter, pushed the puck towards Golden Knights goalie Logan Thompson and scored on his own rebound. The goal came early in the 3rd period and provided the confident Kraken all of the insurance they needed in a 3-0 win.
Three nights later at Climate Pledge Arena against the Ottawa Senators, the 32-year-old French Canadian opened the scoring in the 1st period by forcing a turnover and then cashing in on an Eeli Tolvanen rebound. Seattle was off to the races en route to a 4-1 victory.
‘Right spot at the right time’ also applies to his goal on Tuesday night in Buffalo. Gourde went to the net and shovelled home a rebound from the crease. It tied the game in the first period. The Kraken went on to win 5-2 and extend their unbeaten streak to 11 games.
Good times for the savvy veteran and for the Kraken.