NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Eeli Tolvanen scored twice, Philipp Grubauer made 14 saves and the Seattle Kraken defeated the Nashville Predators 7-2 on Saturday.
Jared McCann had a goal and two assists, and Daniel Sprong, Adam Larsson, Matty Beniers and Oliver Bjorkstrand also scored for Seattle, which entered Saturday holding the top spot in the Western Conference’s wild-card race. Vince Dunn had two assists.
Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie each had a goal and an assist and Juuse Saros made 32 saves for Nashville, which had its two-game winning streak snapped. The Predators began Saturday five points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the West’s second wild-card berth.
“They were the better team from right off the start,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “They just looked faster, more competitive on the puck.”
Tolvanen’s two-goal performance was particularly painful for the Predators, as they waived the talented Finn in early December. Tolvanen has scored 15 goals since joining Seattle.
“He just keeps working hard,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “What he did today is what he’s been doing for us all along.”
Much like in Thursday night’s matchup between the teams, Sprong scored the game’s first goal early in the opening period. Sprong has scored in three straight games, equaling a career high.
Tolvanen doubled the Seattle lead at 17:37 of the first with a power-play goal. The Kraken had not scored on the man-advantage in the last five games, going 0-11 over that stretch.
“I feel like the last couple of games we struggled a little bit getting shots on net and getting scoring chances,” Tolvanen said. “Today we did a pretty good job on the power play. We got shots through and we got some traffic, too.”
Barrie halved the Seattle lead at of the 1:43 of the second, tapping in the rebound of a Philip Tomasino redirect.
Tolvanen struck again at 17:16 of the second. Saros came way out of his crease to try to prevent a Bjorkstrand breakaway. Unfortunately for Saros, he passed it right to Tolvanen just inside the blue line, where he sent a long wrist shot into the vacated net.
Duchene scored at 53 seconds of the third to draw Nashville briefly to back within a goal, but Seattle scored four unanswered to put the game out of reach.
“Yeah, it was kind of a weird game,” Duchene said. “We were not at the level we needed to be. We were a little flat. So I’m not sure. It’s hard to put your finger on why. Execution wasn’t great at times.”
Nashville was credited with just one shot on goal in the first period, equaling a franchise record for fewest shots in one period.
On the other side, it was the first time in Seattle franchise history in which it allowed a single shot against in a period.
“It’s a mental game, one shot there,” Grubauer said. “That’s the period you want to have. I think it was 2-0 after the first period, one shot on net. That’s a hell of a road game.”
Earlier Saturday, the Kraken reassigned goaltender Joey Daccord to the Coachella Valley Firebirds of the AHL. The goaltender went 1-0-1 in the two games he played this week.
Prior to the game, the Predators unveiled a statue of retired goaltender Pekka Rinne. He played his entire NHL career for Nashville, who drafted him in the 8th Round (258th overall) in 2004. The Vezina-winning Rinne recorded 369 victories, including 60 shutouts, in his 13-season NHL career.
Many of Rinne’s former teammates attended the event, as did former goaltending coach Mitch Korn.
Predators: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.
Kraken: Visit the Minnesota Wild on Monday.
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