The Seattle Kraken can see the finish line in their bid to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs in just their second year of existence.
The Anaheim Ducks are one of the teams that stand in their path, and the Kraken will try to bump them aside when they meet on Thursday night in Seattle.
The Kraken (40-25-8, 88 points) hold the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference with nine games remaining.
Seattle is seven points out of third place in the Pacific Division and owns a three-point edge on the Winnipeg Jets, who hold the second wild card by two points over the Calgary Flames.
The San Jose Sharks did the Kraken a favor when they beat the Jets 3-0 on Tuesday night, but Seattle would prefer to take care of business on its own.
The Kraken are 3-4-2 in their past nine games, which has prevented them from solidifying a playoff spot.
Seattle is also winless in its past four home games (0-3-1), with its last victory at Climate Pledge Arena coming against the Ducks on March 7, a 5-2 win.
Kraken fans are also feeling impatient with their goalie situation.
Philipp Grubauer was pulled in the most recent game, a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul, Minn., on Monday, after surrendering four goals on 13 shots. Martin Jones made six saves in relief.
Grubauer has a 2.57 goals-against average for his 11-year NHL career, but is over 3.00 for the second straight year with the Kraken.
Seattle coach Dave Hakstol doesn’t seem to be panicking, however.
“We need our depth to keep doing what they’re doing,” Hakstol said after practice Wednesday.
The Ducks (23-41-10, 56 points) are in a much different boat than the Kraken.
Loser of five in a row, Anaheim could be without its top two scorers, Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry, when it opens a three-game road trip in Seattle.
Zegras, who leads Anaheim with 22 goals and 37 assists, sustained a lower-body injury in the first period of a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.
He tried to play through the pain, but eventually left after the second period and did not return.
Zegras did not practice with the team in Anaheim on Wednesday, but he will accompany the Ducks on the trip and his status is day-to-day, Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said.
Terry will not make the trip, as his wife, Dani, is expecting their first child.
Derek Grant, who scored the lone goal in the loss to Colorado, said the team can’t make excuses for not playing well.
“You have to show up every night, no matter where you are in the standings or what time of the year it is,” Grant said. “I know the guys in here, we all want to win, but it takes 60 minutes of a good team effort to do that. We can’t take nights off and expect to win, or even shifts or periods. It’s tough, but we have a good group and we’ve been sticking together through it.”
Grant has teamed up with Jakob Silfverberg and Max Comtois the past two games to form a physical fourth line.
“For me, it’s been our best line the last two games,” Eakins said.
–Field Level Media