The Seattle Kraken get set for one final contest in Florida with a clear goal of finally beating the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Winless in four tries against the Atlantic Division club and owning just two wins in nine games thus far, Seattle will try to add to the win column when it plays the Lightning on Monday night.
It will have to forget what happened Saturday in Sunrise — in fact, leaving that memory in South Florida would be a good start.
Tied at 2 with the Florida Panthers in the waning minutes of regulation and possibly headed for overtime, Seattle goaltender Joey Daccord committed a game-changing error by going to retrieve a puck that appeared destined to travel behind his net.
Instead, the puck caromed oddly off the stanchion and into the low slot, where Florida’s Nick Cousins scooped in the game winner with 5:52 left as his club beat Seattle for the second time in five career meetings.
“It was on me. I should’ve stayed in the net,” Daccord said. “Late in the game, tie game, the stanchions here are pretty bouncy and it was an unfortunate bounce, but I should have just stayed in the net and at least given myself a chance to make a save there. I feel like I let the team down tonight.”
That put the Kraken at 1-1-1 on their four-game road trip that ends in Tampa.
Jared McCann scored his fourth goal to open the scoring for Seattle, which held a 2-0 lead until the defending Eastern Conference champions tallied twice in 11 seconds.
“It’s a huge step in the right direction,” said McCann, a 40-goal scorer last season. “I keep saying it, but we’ve just gotta keep playing simple.”
The suddenly hot Lightning should be happy to see the Kraken come to town. The Lightning have outscored Seattle 17-4 in their four all-time meetings.
They will close their five-game homestand (3-0-1) knowing they have reliable play on the back end and contributors up and down the lines to keep that mark perfect.
With star goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (back surgery) still on the mend but skating very lightly on the ice, Jonas Johansson has slid in and been a standout in the blue paint.
The 28-year-old Swede has authored two consecutive shutouts — a first for the Lightning since Vasilevskiy turned the trick in late November 2021 against the Philadelphia Flyers and Kraken.
Johansson has stopped 55 consecutive shots in the pair of blankings.
However, the Lightning were not getting the best version of the winless San Jose Sharks, who are entering a massive rebuild, or the Carolina Hurricanes, who have been saddled with key injuries at all three positions.
“This is the National Hockey League, and I’m a big believer that if you don’t come prepared to play, anybody can beat you,” Cooper said. “For us, we’ve been at home for a week or so here and we’re trying to build our game. Because a team comes in winless, it doesn’t change how you have to approach.
“Whether you’re playing a team that hadn’t won a game or a team that hadn’t lost a game, you should still have that same approach. And I thought we did.”