Kraken out to end road skid in matchup with Devils

Feb 6, 2024; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek (41) makes a save against the Colorado Avalanche during the third period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Kraken and New Jersey Devils find themselves in nearly the same circumstances entering Monday night’s matchup in Newark, N.J.

After lofty preseason expectations, both sit six points out of a wild-card playoff spot in their respective conferences entering Monday.

The Devils are fourth in the chase for one of the Eastern Conference’s two berths. They have a game in hand on Detroit, which is tied with Toronto in the two wild-card slots.

The Kraken are fifth in the West wild-card chase, but have played two more games than Los Angeles, which is tied with St. Louis in that conference’s wild-card race.

Either way, both the Kraken and Devils need victories.

The Kraken have lost their past five road games, outscored 17-6 in the process, including a 3-2 defeat Saturday at Philadelphia in their first game since the All-Star break. They were defeated by Flyers goaltender Cal Petersen, who was making his first start since Nov. 11.

Seattle’s Joey Daccord made 35 saves and Jared McCann scored his team-leading 21st goal of the season, but it wasn’t enough.

“It’s got to be one game at a time, two points at a time that that’s all you can worry about,” said Kraken forward Yanni Gourde, a former Stanley Cup champion with the Tampa Bay Lightning. “If you look too far ahead, it looks like a mountain to climb. But if you look at it one game at a time … you just focus on what you can handle right now.”

The Kraken twice rallied from one-goal deficits Saturday but couldn’t overcome allowing power-play and short-handed tallies.

“We made a push, but obviously it wasn’t enough,” Kraken forward Alex Wennberg said. “Right now, you’ve got to find a way to win these games. These tight games. It’s going to be tight in the future so we’ve just got to dig a little bit more.

The Devils are 1-1-1 since the All-Star break. They defeated Colorado 5-3 and lost to Calgary 5-3.

Then came a 1-0 overtime defeat Saturday at Carolina. Goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 31 saves for the Devils.

“I thought we played one heck of a hockey game,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “I thought our detail was real good. We took away time and space, kept our feet moving in the (offensive) zone. We just didn’t finish.”

It was the third time the Devils were blanked this season.

“I thought we had a lot of chances over the game. So did they,” Devils forward Timo Meier said. “It was a very tight game. There wasn’t a lot of room out there. It was playoff-type hockey. We would have loved to have the second point (with a victory), but we can definitely build on this game.”

The Devils won 2-1 on Dec. 7 in Seattle as Simon Nemec, the second overall pick in the 2022 draft, scored his first NHL goal to break a 1-1 tie and Akira Schmid made 37 saves.

–Field Level Media

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