SEATTLE (AP)At this point of the season with a possible first playoff berth on the horizon, the Seattle Kraken know they must avoid faltering when the schedule turns in their favor.
Case in point came Tuesday night when the Kraken managed their way through a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on a night Seattle wasn’t at its best but still picked up its fifth straight victory.
“I liked the intelligence of our team,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “We had some recognition that we maybe weren’t gonna be at our best in terms of energy. As we got through the second half of the game, we managed it pretty well and managed especially the third period very well.”
Jared McCann scored his fifth goal in the past five games and Daniel Sprong scored for the first time since Jan. 17, and the Kraken posted their fourth win streak of at least five games this season. Seattle’s longest win streak last year in its inaugural season was three games, accomplished once.
McCann stayed hot as his 31st goal of the season gave Seattle a 2-0 first-period lead. Sprong’s 16th goal late in the second period pushed Seattle’s lead to 3-1 after Anaheim’s Trevor Zegras scored a spectacular between-the-legs goal in the opening seconds of the period.
Jamie Oleksiak also scored his career-best ninth of the season for Seattle, Eeli Tolvanen scored on a power play midway through the third period off an assist from McCann, and Jaden Schwartz added an empty-net goal with 17 seconds left.
Matty Beniers had two assists and extended his lead as the top scoring rookie in the league. and the Kraken inched closer to Vegas for the top spot in the Pacific Division.
“We’re gonna have to play well every single night,” McCann said. “Obviously we’re going to be playing some divisional games here soon and those are going to matter a lot more.”
Seattle goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 20 saves, including a pair of key stops on Max Jones early in the first period, and won his fourth straight decision. But the one shot he couldn’t stop was a stunning finish by Zegras that’ll be added to his career highlight reel.
Zegras slipped behind Seattle’s defense in the opening moments of the second period, pulled the puck between his legs and flipped it over Grubauer’s shoulder for his 21st goal of the season. Max Comtois scored with 1:27 left, but Anaheim saw its streak of points in five straight games come to an end.
“I thought we had more ‘A’ chances than them. We just couldn’t bury them. Their goaltender played very, very well.” Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said. “I think the thing that hurt us tonight was our power play. We didn’t get many good looks there, especially when we needed it.”
Anaheim goalie John Gibson made 26 saves.
Seattle’s Vince Dunn was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the third period after screaming at an official from the bench and slamming his stick against the glass. Dunn took a big hit from Comtois near the head that went uncalled and left Dunn’s nose bloodied. Dunn was later pulled from the penalty box and sent into the locker room after medical spotters stopped the game.
“I don’t have a reason for concern right now, but I have not talked to our medical people,” Hakstol said.
NOTES: Seattle F Ryan Donato was scratched as Sprong rejoined the lineup after sitting four of the previous six games. Donato had played 23 straight games and the last time he was scratched was Jan. 10 at Buffalo. … F Brock McGinn made his debut with the Ducks after being claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh last week. … Seattle D Adam Larsson had his 21st assist of the season on McCann’s first-period goal. Larsson now has a career-high 26 points.
Ducks: At Vancouver on Wednesday.
Kraken: Host Ottawa on Thursday.
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