Leave it to a former Duck.
Daniel Sprong scored the eventual game winning goal to shatter a third period tie and lift the Seattle Kraken to a 5-4 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, before a crowd of 14,324 at Honda Center.
“That’s been consistent for our team – different players stepping up offensively,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We need everybody on our bench to play the way we want.”
They got what they wanted – another win against a Pacific Division foe (that was also hard to shake). The Kraken (13-5-3, 29 points), now steamrolling through November, own the second best record in the Western Conference – four points back of Vegas – and are 10-1-1 in the last 12 games.
“We have a little good mojo going – we feel like we’re playing good hockey and playing against teams in our division,” center Alex Wennberg said. “It’s huge points. We’re doing a lot of good things to get rewarded.”
Matty Beniers’ first star effort came off another three-point game, bolstering the 20-year old forward to a league rookie-leading 18 points in 21 games. Sprong’s goal astonishingly put him at an upper-level, near point-per-game rate with 11 points in 14 games to help the Kraken avoid a messy ending that saw Anaheim rally out of two separate two-goal deficits.
“Different individuals stepping up, stepping forward,” said Hakstol. “You don’t win without that.”
At one point a top prospect in the Pittsburgh Penguins farm system, Sprong spent parts of two seasons in a Ducks uniform, shelved in his final season in the minors. He went through two more trades in the last two seasons, funneled from the Ducks, to the Capitals, and now the Kraken.
Sprung had a message to send, cupping his ear to celebrate after his game-winning goal, but denied it was for the fans, who showered the ice with boos.
“I think the people knew who it was for,” said Sprong. “I’ll leave it at that.”
The Kraken scored just 33 seconds into the game on Jared McCann’s eighth goal of the season and built on Alex Wennberg’s 2-0 lead with a 3-1 edge by the end of the first period. Troy Terry and Vince Dunn exchanged goals as both teams were just getting warmed up.
Derek Grant cut the Kraken lead to a goal early in the second period before Beniers parked a power play goal at 9:30 from the left circle. Anaheim, who had the league’s worst power play entering the game, scored on two straight power play tallies from Mason MacTavish and Adam Henrique to put the game in doubt before Sprong gave the Kraken the lead, for good, 3:41 into the third period.
The Kraken have won five games in a row, next visiting the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, 7:30pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) to complete a three-game road trip.
1.Matty Beniers, still rolling: That’s quite the way to destroy a six-game scoring drought: come right back and get nine points in four games. Beniers is rolling, and demonstrating he has the capability to handle peaks and valleys of a long season. The Ducks might be getting a little annoyed to face #10 on the other side: Beniers owns five points in two games, head to head this season. He’s now up to 18 points in 21 games, leading the league in rookie scoring and cementing another example of a Calder Trophy case build.
2. Special teams, bullet dodged: The Kraken were well on their way to decimating the Anaheim Ducks, proving the game was realistically over at the end of the national anthem. The Kraken are one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Anaheim is in last place, and in the basement power play and penalty kill efficiency. But the Kraken penalty kill let Anaheim hang around for much of the night with three goals on the man advantage, exposing spots at the front of the net or cross-seam passes that turned into scoring chances or flat out goals. Staying out of the box was priority number one in the third period, and the Kraken were fully obedient to hang onto the lead.
3. Scoring first: The Kraken showed up on time in what could have easily been a “trap game,” or falling prey to an opponent who’s struggling. Anaheim admittedly came back to tie the game later, but the Kraken wasted no time in making the Ducks chase them with a 2-0 lead, including a goal in the first minute of play which was generate off an end zone face-off win. The Kraken are now 10-1-1 when they score the first goal of a game, an imperative ingredient to energize Climate Pledge Arena, and silence an opposing venue.
Of note, the Kraken lost center Morgan Geekie in a freak collision with Adam Larsson during the second period and did not return. No timetable or updated condition was available after the game.
KRAKEN LINEUP, AT ANAHEIM, 11/27