Seattle Kraken vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick & Prediction JANUARY 21st 2024

Seattle Kraken coach Dave Hakstol isn’t quite sure which players he’ll have available Sunday night when his team returns home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs after injuries and illness have been making their way through the Kraken ranks.

But he knows Yanni Gourde won’t be one of the players available.

Gourde received a two-game suspension from the NHL for a five-minute charging penalty on a hit against Edmonton’s Mattias Ekholm late in Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Oilers.

The league’s ruling didn’t please Hakstol, who said he felt the play was similar to one the Kraken’s Matty Beniers suffered earlier in the six-game trip against Columbus’ Cole Sillinger that drew no further punishment and left Beniers with an upper-body injury.

“I’m comparing that to the hit Matty took, which is to me a more violent hit,” Hakstol said. “A little different play and obviously a different result. And the end result is, we’re going forward without Gourde for a couple of games and we’re still without Matty.”

After winning the first three games on their trip to extend their franchise-record steaks to nine consecutive victories and 13 straight games with points (11-0-2), the Kraken have dropped three in a row.

“We wanted one of these last two games either in New York or (Edmonton),” said Hakstol, “and you walk away feeling like it’s a really successful road trip. We weren’t able to do that. That’s disappointing.

“We’ve got to try to get some bodies healed up and feeling better. Then we have to get back at it at home.”

The Kraken took a 2-0 lead in the first period in Edmonton on Thursday, only to see the Oilers score three times in the opening eight minutes of the second.

“I think it’s important we started on time, and we did a really good job with that,” Kraken forward Eeli Tolvanen said. “But we have to play the whole 60 minutes to win these games.

Toronto, which is in a 1-4-1 funk, knows that feeling.

The Maple Leafs will wrap up a four-game Western swing in Seattle and play the second half of a back-to-back set after a 6-4 defeat Saturday in Vancouver.

Toronto fell behind by three goals in the first period before tying the score at 4-4 early in the third prior to conceding a pair of power-play tallies.

“We got belief in this team. We came in here as a group and knew that was pretty pathetic,” Toronto forward Mitch Marner said about the feeling in the dressing room after the first period. “So we knew this game, and the pace of this game, was going to be very high and very competitive, and we didn’t bring it in the first period, and I like our response in the second.”

Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe lamented that his team didn’t have the start it envisioned.

“A bit of a theme with their goals, outcompeting us around our net,” Keefe said. “At worst, the rest of the game, it was even. As much as we fight back, which I love, you can’t spot three and expect to win, especially [to] a top team in the league.”

–Field Level Media

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