The Seattle Kraken finally looked like an expansion team Monday — just in time to encounter the task of playing a back-to-back set for the first time.
The first road trip in franchise history will conclude Tuesday when Seattle visits the New Jersey Devils in Newark, N.J.
The Kraken absorbed a multi-goal defeat for the first time Monday, falling 6-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Devils have been off since Friday, when Jack Hughes scored twice, including the game-winner 57 seconds into overtime, in a 4-3, season-opening victory over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.
The loss in Philadelphia dropped the Kraken to 1-2-1 on a road trip that began with a trio of one-goal affairs — a 4-3 loss Oct. 12 to the previous expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights; a milestone 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday and a 2-1 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
However, Seattle was never able to recover from a slow start Monday, when the Flyers scored three times in a span of 5:18 in the first period. Philadelphia raced out to a 5-0 lead before Carson Soucy scored with 2:46 left in the second.
“There are a lot of things we did not do (Monday) — it starts with winning battles, playing hard, forechecking, being out there for each other,” Kraken right winger Joonas Donskoi said. “I think it would be real easy to start hanging our heads right now and doing all that. But the good thing is we play again (Tuesday). We know we can play.”
Devils head coach Lindy Ruff, who began his coaching career as an assistant with the expansion Florida Panthers in 1993, was expecting a feisty effort from the Kraken well before Monday’s lopsided outcome.
“I think when you end up on an expansion team, you have a lot of players that carry a little bit of a chip and to prove that ‘I should have been protected,'” Ruff said Monday afternoon. “I think you end up with a group of extremely hard-working players. I was part of the Panthers expansion franchise. That group ended up in a Stanley Cup Final (in the franchise’s third season). We’ve seen what Vegas has done.
“I think that group, again, has got something to prove. We’ve got to be ready to outwork them and then play the game the right way.”
Devils defensemen Ty Smith and Damon Severson, each of whom missed Friday’s opener due to lower-body injuries, both returned to practice Monday and could make their season debuts Tuesday.
With New Jersey No. 1 goalie Mackenzie Blackwood (lower body) still absent from practice Monday, Jonathan Bernier is likely to draw another start for the Devils. Bernier stopped 24 shots in his New Jersey debut on Friday.
The second game of the Kraken’s back-to-back might have likely would have led to backup goalie Chris Driedger getting his first start Tuesday. However, Driedger relieved Philipp Grubauer in the second period Monday after the latter gave up five goals. Driedger stopped six of the seven he faced.
–Field Level Media