When a hockey player can be mentioned in the same sentence with Wayne Gretzky, it’s an honor.
But after just five NHL games?
Seattle forward Matty Beniers could equal a little-known NHL record “The Great One” shares when the Kraken play Saturday night at the Dallas Stars.
With a third-period goal in a 6-3 loss Friday at the Minnesota Wild, Beniers has recorded a point in each of his first five games (three goals, two assists).
The only rookies to have scored in more consecutive games at the beginning of their careers for an expansion team were Edmonton linemates Gretzky and Brett Callighen in 1979-80.
But that mark comes with an asterisk, as the Oilers were in their first year in the NHL but weren’t a true expansion team, having been absorbed from the World Hockey Association, in which Callighen had played three seasons and Gretzky one.
So in essence, the 19-year-old Beniers, the No. 2 overall pick in last summer’s draft who played for Team USA in the Olympics and led Michigan to the NCAA’s Frozen Four, already is in uncharted territory.
“It’s been a good start,” Beniers said earlier in the week. “There’s always better. I think it’s been pretty good. But there is a lot more work to do. You want to build a team that’s really good. Especially next year. I know we’re out of the playoffs, but it is good to get some momentum as the year is getting over, especially going into next year.
“Your goal is not to do good — it’s to do really well and make sure your team is winning games. If you can help your team do that, you’re doing well. It’s just been (a few) games. We got a lot more work to do.”
The Kraken (26-45-6, 58 points) could use some work on the penalty kill after allowing three power-play goals in Friday’s loss.
The Kraken scored the game’s first two goals and led 2-1 after one period before the Wild scored five times in the second.
“The second period, they were a team that was playing for a playoff position and seeding, and they played for real,” said Kraken coach Dave Hakstol, whose team had its first three-game winning streak snapped. “We played 20 minutes of shinny hockey. That’s the bottom line.”
The Kraken will face another team playing for playoff position in the Stars (43-30-5, 91 points), who entered the weekend with a two-point lead over Vegas for the Western Conference’s second and final wild-card spot.
The Stars will look to end a three-game losing streak. That includes a 4-2 defeat Thursday at Calgary in which two of the Flames’ goals bounced off Dallas defenders.
“Two goals went off our guys. That seems like it’s been the story lately,” Stars goalie Jake Oettinger said. “Both times, the guys were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing, and sometimes the puck just bounces like that.”
Still, the Stars control their own fate. Saturday’s contest will open a four-game homestand to conclude their regular season.
“We’re going home with great fans, and if we have to do it the hard way, we’ll do it the hard way,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “We get back to a great atmosphere in our rink. We still control our own destiny, we just have to take full advantage of it, and we’re going to.”
–Field Level Media
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