After Seattle Kraken coach Dave Hakstol had a talk with his club before Sunday’s road game against the Florida Panthers, his team responded with a strong win that snapped a season-worst three-game losing streak.
The coach might need a similar speech Tuesday night when the Kraken remain in the Sunshine State to face the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are playing some of their best hockey of the season.
The meeting will be the first of the season for Seattle against the Atlantic Division team, which sits in third place, sandwiched between the Toronto Maple Leafs and fourth-place Detroit Red Wings.
Seattle is second in the Pacific Division — tied with Los Angeles with 35 points but holding four games in hand over the Kings.
Following home losses to the Panthers and Montreal Canadiens, then another defeat against the Washington Capitals to open a four-game road swing, Hakstol had a straightforward talk with his team about getting back to playing its repeat matchup against the Panthers.
“We talked about just getting back to who we are and a little bit better (in) five-on-five (play) in terms of all three zones, in terms of how we checked and skated,” Hakstol said. “We did that tonight. That was a big, a big piece of our game.”
In a 5-2 win, Seattle got goals from rookie Matty Beniers, Andre Burakovsky, Jordan Eberle, Daniel Sprong and Yanni Gourde in its best goal-output since hitting the net nine times in a 9-8 win over the Kings on Nov. 29.
The second-season expansion team also received a strong showing from goaltender Martin Jones, who improved to 13-5-2 by stopping 23 of Florida’s 25 shots.
That win ended Seattle’s second three-game winless streak of the season. The team went 0-2-1 from Oct. 15-19, but the recent bad run featured three losses in regulation in which the Kraken were outscored 13-4.
Winners in 10 of their past 13 games, the Lightning are taking advantage of playing on their home ice.
They enter Tuesday’s game with a 10-4-1 record at home, have won two straight overall and seven of their past nine matches at their arena, where they defeated the in-state rival Panthers 4-1 on Saturday.
In that division triumph — a bitter battle that resembled a playoff game — the Lightning saw Pat Maroon, Brayden Point, Mikhail Sergachev and Steven Stamkos score goals as they pulled away from the Panthers with a three-goal third period.
Stamkos capped the productive frame by taking a feed from Alex Killorn, deking Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, and sliding home his team-leading 15th goal with less than five minutes to play.
That tally extended the captain’s point streak to a season-best 13 games. Stamkos has eight goals and 12 assists in the run. His career-high mark is 18, set during the 2009-10 season.
“It’s fun when you’re on a streak like that,” said Stamkos, whose 11 multi-point games this season tie him with teammate Nikita Kucherov. “It just seems you’re finding ways whether you’re having a good game or not. Sometimes it’s just a little bounce here, there, if you stick with it.”
–Field Level Media