NHL Previews: Kraken take on Avalanche; and Jets face Canucks
Yanni Gourde has his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, having helped the Tampa Bay Lightning to the past two NHL titles.
So what words of advice does he have for his new team, the expansion Seattle Kraken, as they attempt to snap a five-game losing streak when they play host to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night?
Kraken vs Avalanche (10:00 PM ET)
“We gotta start thinking one game at a time, one shift at a time. That’s all that matters,” Gourde said. “The next shift. The next guy up, let’s go. Let’s keep grinding. Let’s find ways. We can’t look too far ahead. Let’s win the next first shift, and then go from there.”
The Kraken are 0-3-0 on their current six-game homestand. That includes a 4-2 loss to Chicago on Wednesday in which they fell behind by three goals before Jared McCann and Gourde scored in the final 5:45 to get Seattle close. But the Blackhawks iced the game with an empty-netter.
That follows a recent pattern for Seattle. Fall behind early while giving up some odd-man rushes or breakaways, then rally late.
The Kraken put just three shots on goal in the first period Wednesday but, after falling behind 2-0 early in the second, peppered Marc-Andre Fleury with 16 shots in the middle period. Fleury ended up making 31 saves.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” McCann said. “We see it in video. There is no other way to put it: It’s frustrating, and we need to clean it up.
“I’m frustrated and I want to win. I think everybody does on our team. Things aren’t going our way right now. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot. That’s the way it is.”
The Avalanche have won three in a row, all without injured star Nathan MacKinnon (lower body).
Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and two assists Wednesday in a 4-2 victory at Vancouver.
Gabriel Landeskog and Cale Makar added a goal and an assist apiece, Darcy Kuemper made 32 saves and Colorado was 3 of 5 on the power play.
“Attention to detail lately, just trying to execute better, more tape-to-tape passes,” Kadri said of the power play. “Guys have been communicating a lot and just trying to dot our i’s and cross our t’s to execute at a high level. We’ve got the skill set out there, it’s just about executing the game plan, and (Wednesday) was one of our better nights on the power play.”
Jets vs Canucks (10:00 PM ET)
Losing has not been a regular event of late for the Winnipeg Jets. However, in the aftermath of a 2-1 shootout defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers, the Jets head into a Friday road clash with the Vancouver Canucks.
Still, the Jets weren’t despondent after opening a quick two-game road trip by coming out on the short side against the Pacific Division-leading Oilers, especially after they claimed a 5-2 win in the first half of the home-and-home set between Western Canadian rivals.
“I liked our last two games, those are the two best games we’ve played this year on back-to-back,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said after Thursday’s affair. “They played hard, too, so it made it more valuable.”
The Jets, who are tied with the Minnesota Wild for first place in the Central Division, have put their early-season struggles behind them in a big way. They have cobbled together a 9-1-3 mark in their last 13 outings.
The Canucks are living on the other side of the tracks these days. Vancouver is riding a five-game losing streak and managed only two wins in 11 outings (2-8-1).
The struggles have resulted in coach Travis Green landing on the hot seat and general manager Jim Benning coming forward on Thursday to give his bench boss a vote of confidence and light a fire under the players.
“We’re looking at everything. We’re trying to find solutions to our problems, and Travis and his staff are working hard,” Benning said. “Losing is wearing on them, like it’s wearing on all of us. This is something that I didn’t expect to happen after the moves we made this summer, but it’s happening, and we have to deal with it.”
The Canucks are struggling at both scoring goals and defending, especially while short-handed. Their league-worst penalty kill has surrendered 18 goals over the last nine outings. The inability to kill off those infractions was a major factor in a 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, a game in which the Avalanche scored three power-play goals.
–Field Level Media