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Kraken look to turn things around against Islanders

Dec 30, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Kraken forward Daniel Sprong (91) is congratulated by forward Ryan Donato (9) and defenseman Will Borgen (3) after scoring a goal during the second period against the Edmonton Oilers at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Not only did the Seattle Kraken fall below the playoff line in their final game of 2022, but they were embarrassed while doing so.

The Kraken lost to the visiting Edmonton Oilers 7-2 Friday to drop from third to fifth place in the Pacific Division and a point back in the Western Conference playoff race.

The Kraken will try to salvage the finale of a three-game homestand when they play host to the New York Islanders on Sunday.

The Kraken had no answer for Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, who had a goal and four assists. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also had four assists for the Oilers, who were playing without second-leading scorer Leon Draisaitl because of an undisclosed injury.

It was Seattle’s eighth loss in the past 11 games (3-7-1).

“I think lately we haven’t been playing our best hockey and tonight was just a big slap in our face,” Kraken forward Yanni Gourde said Friday. “We didn’t come out the way we wanted. They were opportunistic and they scored three goals in the first three or whatever minutes it was. At this time of year, it’s really unacceptable to have a performance like this.”

The Oilers scored three goals in a 1:11 span early in the first period, with Kraken coach Dave Hakstol replacing goaltender Philipp Grubauer after just 3:55.

Hakstol was asked whether his decision to pull the goalie was due to his performance or to give his team a wake-up call.

“A little bit of both,” Hakstol said. “I mean, regardless of the situation, we need a goaltender to make some saves. But at that point in time, our team wasn’t going. So, you make a change in net, take a few seconds for everybody on the bench to reset and hope you go back and push in the other direction. And we didn’t do that.”

Kraken defenseman Adam Larsson said the issue “wasn’t one thing.”

“Obviously, we needed a better start,” Larsson said. “But (Friday) was more of a 60-minute issue. It just wasn’t good enough.”

The Islanders, meanwhile, have won three in a row and are 4-1-1 in their past six games. They entered the weekend tied with Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers atop the Eastern Conference’s wild-card chase.

The Islanders defeated visiting Columbus 2-1 Thursday as Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a goal and an assist and Ilya Sorokin made 20 saves.

“It’s been a couple of games now where we’re playing the way we want to,” Pageau said. “We’re all playing our roles and we’re competing a lot for a full 60 (minutes). I thought we did that (Thursday), and obviously Sorokin is always there to make the big saves when we need it.”

Mathew Barzal added a power-play goal for the Islanders, their first in their past 28 opportunities.

“That was an execution type of thing. I don’t think it was a personnel type of thing,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said of the power play. “It’s a long season, and sometimes you go through a little bit of a dry spell, and we went through one. Maybe it was a little bit longer than we wanted.”

Barzal, who played his junior hockey with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League before being a first-round pick by the Islanders in 2015, has scored four of his eight goals this season over the past four games.

“Lately he’s been shooting the puck more, and (that) leads to more success and leads to more opportunities,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said.

–Field Level Media