For the first time this season, the Seattle Kraken are back to “hockey .500” as Kraken play-by-play announcer John Forslund calls it.
And it’s just in time for the Kraken to play host to the rival Vancouver Canucks on Friday.
The Kraken “evened” their record at 8-8-5 with a 7-1 trouncing of the NHL-worst San Jose Sharks on Wednesday.
Eeli Tolvanen scored twice and added an assist, and Oliver Bjorkstrand had a goal and three assists. Joey Daccord made just 13 saves, though his bid for his first career shutout was thwarted with 4:28 remaining when Mike Hoffman scored the Sharks’ only goal of the game.
The Kraken extended their point streak to five games (3-0-2), which includes a 4-3 victory last Saturday at Vancouver in the first meeting between the teams this season.
Seattle, which had blown leads in 17 of its previous 18 games, scored four times in the first period against the Sharks and the rout was on.
“We were ready to go at the drop of the puck,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “We came out, we scored early, but just the way we played from the drop of the puck, I thought, put the momentum where it needed to be.”
Jared McCann scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season for the Kraken, though he had another called back after a video review determined the play was offside.
The line of Tolvanen, Yanni Gourde and Bjorkstrand combined for four goals and five assists.
“I think we’re feeling it,” Bjorkstrand said. “Maybe a few lucky bounces off the glass, but we like playing together and I think it just kind of went our way.”
The victory moved the Kraken into a tie for the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Why is that important? Because in the NHL’s salary cap era (since 2005-06), 77 percent of the teams in postseason position on Thanksgiving ended up making the playoffs.
“So everybody can enjoy their families and friends (on Thanksgiving),” Tolvanen said.
The Canucks’ feast might not have been so tasty after a 5-2 loss at Colorado on Wednesday in which they were in a giving mood, allowing three unanswered goals in the third period.
Nils Hoglander and J.T. Miller scored for the Canucks, who have lost three of their past four games. Thatcher Demko made 20 saves in defeat.
Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes had an assist to give him a league-high 31 points this season, one better than teammate Miller. Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson ranks sixth with 28 points.
“The guys played hard; a lot of guys playing emptied the tank,” Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said. “We had some really good moments. These are the type of games that are going to happen for the rest of the year. This is where you’ve got to make sure your details are (there). Stooping in the slot defensively, things like that, we’ve got to keep working on.”
–Field Level Media