Struggling Kraken face Wild, feel ‘pressure’

NHL Hockey

Maybe it’s time to shelve those comparisons between the Seattle Kraken and the NHL’s previous expansion team, the 2017-18 Vegas Golden Knights.

Those Golden Knights bucked the odds, winning the Pacific Division title and reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

The Kraken, losers of five of their past six games entering Saturday night’s matchup with the visiting Minnesota Wild, have not yet shown the ability to replicate Vegas’ success.

“We definitely feel pressure in the locker room, which we shouldn’t really when you look at the history of expansion,” said Seattle’s Jordan Eberle, who scored his team-leading eighth goal in a 7-4 home loss Thursday to Anaheim. “We feel we have a really good club. For the most part, we’ve been in every game, and when you look at our record, I feel we should have three or four more wins.

“And when you have that and things aren’t going right … you maybe start to question yourself a little bit.”

Jared McCann, who scored twice in his first game since Oct. 28 after a stint in the league’s COVID-19 protocol, echoed those comments.

“We definitely put a lot of pressure on ourselves,” McCann said. “We’ve just got to relax. You can’t play hockey tight. That’s just not the way it works. We had some good shifts, and we hemmed (Anaheim) in there in the third period a lot. We can do it. We just need to believe in ourselves.”

The Kraken twice pulled within a goal in the third period before the Ducks put the game away with two empty-netters.

“This group is going to continue to push back, but it’s not really just about that — it’s about the complete 60-minute performance, which we did not have (Thursday),” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “We got going part way through the second period, gave ourselves a chance, but ultimately it’s really hard to dig out of a hole.

“In those first 25 to 30 minutes, we didn’t win races or puck battles.”

The Wild had a four-game winning streak snapped with a 3-2 loss Thursday in Las Vegas.

Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Hartman scored in the third period, and Cam Talbot made 32 saves for the Wild.

“It was a tough hill to climb, getting down those (three) goals,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We can’t keep doing that, obviously. It’ll bite us like it did (Thursday).”

Defenseman Matt Dumba turned over the puck at center ice, leading to a Vegas goal with seven seconds left in the second period that gave the Knights a three-goal advantage.

“I just feel like I let the boys down,” Dumba said. “Just a … bad play. Yeah, it sucks. It sucks. Feels like it comes down to one play; the boys worked so hard in the third to kind of pull us out of that. Just fell short.

“I’ve gotta be better. That starts versus Seattle.”

The Wild also failed to convert a lengthy 5-on-3 man advantage in the second period.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of comebacks here,” Spurgeon said. “The belief was there. But if you have a 5-on-3 for that long and you don’t capitalize, that hurts the team.”

This will be the second meeting between the Wild and Kraken. Seattle won 4-1 at home on Oct. 28 as defenseman Haydn Fleury tallied twice.

–Field Level Media

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