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With help from schedule makers, Kraken host Flames

Dec 27, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund (11) celebrates his goal against Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL’s schedule-makers have provided the Seattle Kraken with some holiday help.

Wednesday night’s matchup with Calgary will be the Kraken’s fourth straight home game against a team playing the second half of a back-to-back, after the Flames hosted the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.

Despite putting 47 shots on net, the Flames lost 2-1 as Connor McDavid scored the go-ahead goal 7:28 into the third period. It was McDavid’s league-leading 31st goal of the season.

Mikael Backlund scored, and goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 20 saves for the Flames, who lost in regulation for the first time in five games (3-1-1).

Backlund had a chance to send the game to overtime, but his attempt hit the post with four seconds remaining.

“It’s tough,” Backlund said. “It would have been a great feeling to score there, but it’s almost worse hitting the posts than them making saves. So, just inches away from it being tied. A lot of posts and bars right now.

“I don’t think it’s bad luck or anything; it’s just the way it is right now. We’ve got to keep shooting, create chances. We’ve got to score more than one to win.”

Markstrom took a big-picture approach.

“We had a great road trip. We got seven out of eight points (prior to the holiday break),” he said. “You carry that with you for sure. We had a nice skate this morning and a nice few days’ break with the family, and everybody’s excited to get back in there.

“I thought it showed (Tuesday), but it’s still a loss. Our division here is tight, and we can’t lose these tight games.”

Seattle’s previous three opponents at home had played in Vancouver the previous night. The Kraken are 2-1-0 at home during that stretch, losing 4-2 to Montreal and then defeating Winnipeg 3-2 and St. Louis 5-2.

The Kraken have been idle since a 6-5 shootout loss last Thursday at Vancouver. The Canucks got the tying goal from Elias Pettersson with 1:20 remaining in regulation with their goalie pulled for an extra attacker. Pettersson had two goals, three assists and scored the winner in the shootout.

Daniel Sprong tallied twice, and Oliver Bjorkstrand had a goal and an assist for the Kraken, who got goals from all four of their forward lines and never trailed until the shootout.

“They had a push and they capitalized on their chances,” Sprong said. “Sometimes, that’s the way hockey goes, but of course it’s not the way we want to end going into the break.

“I think the crowd got into it, they started to push and we didn’t find an answer. They kept coming. If you keep coming, you’re going to get chances, and they buried them.”

It was especially disheartening for the Kraken as they built a two-goal lead in seeking their first victory against Vancouver in six all-time meetings.

“We’re here to win a hockey game, and we didn’t do that, so that’s disappointing,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “We’ll look at not only line combinations, but exactly what we did in the third period, and there’s a couple of things we have to do better. We have to do better when we’ve got a two-goal lead. That’s a game we should be able to close out.”

This will be the second meeting of the season between Seattle and Calgary. The visiting Kraken won 5-4 on Nov. 1, rallying from a two-goal deficit before rookie Matty Beniers netted his first career winner with 6:34 remaining.

–Field Level Media