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Kraken, Wild clash in key West wild-card matchup

Feb 22, 2024; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Kraken right wing Jordan Eberle (7) celebrates scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

In the span of eight days, the Seattle Kraken posted three-goal victories against the top teams in both the NHL’s Eastern and Western conferences.

Yet the Kraken still enter their Saturday night home game against the Minnesota Wild three points out of a playoff berth.

Seattle recorded a 4-1 road victory over the East-leading Boston Bruins on Feb. 15.

After the Kraken took a 4-3 overtime loss to the visiting Detroit Red Wings on Monday, Seattle came back to post a 5-2 victory against the West-leading Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

Seattle’s Jared McCann had the first four-point game of his career — his team-leading 25th goal and three assists — vs. Vancouver. Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer, making just his second appearance since sustaining a lower-body injury Dec. 9, stopped 19 shots.

The Kraken are riding a four-game point streak (3-0-1) as they try to track down the Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and Minnesota in the Western Conference’s wild-card race.

“It’s pretty frustrating when we don’t play like that,” said McCann, who extended his point streak to six games (five goals, five assists). “Because we played against one of the best teams in the NHL, we play like that, we just feel good, we’re dominating. And it’s frustrating sometimes when we’re not playing like that every game.”

Jordan Eberle added two goals, including a clinching empty-netter, and an assist against the Canucks.

“I think the biggest thing for us is we just want to play meaningful hockey all the way down the stretch,” Eberle said. “Put our heads down. As cliched as it is, you can’t stop and look around the league at the teams you’ve got to chase.”

Kraken coach Dave Hakstol called the Thursday game “a solid performance all the way through.”

“We got good contributions from everybody,” he said. “Our play with the puck drives a lot of our success as far as moving the puck, taking care of it, making good, hard plays and getting through the neutral zone. We played fast, and that’s the way we looked for most of the night.”

The Wild will be playing the second half of a back-to-back set after earning a 4-2 victory at Edmonton on Friday. Matt Boldy scored twice and Filip Gustavsson made 41 saves to hand the Oilers their first regulation loss at home since Dec. 16.

The victory moved Minnesota, which is 6-1-1 in its past eight games, a point ahead of Seattle and into fourth place in the West’s wild-card race.

“This time of year, you have to find ways to win,” Wild coach John Hynes said postgame. “And I thought we did enough to find a way to win tonight.”

Gustavsson made 23 saves in the third period as the Oilers pushed for the equalizer.

“We needed to get the job done and play well and I thought we played well tonight,” Boldy said. “To be able to weather the storm and ‘Gus’ made some huge saves and ‘D’ blocking shots and stuff and forwards doing a good job. It was a whole team effort. It was nice.”

Minnesota opened the week with a 10-7 victory against visiting Vancouver on Monday as Joel Eriksson Ek and Kirill Kaprizov each had three goals and three assists.

The Wild lost 6-3 at Winnipeg the next night. Minnesota’s Marco Rossi tallied twice to give him 17 this season, tied with the Chicago Blackhawks’ Connor Bedard for the most among rookies.

–Field Level Media

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