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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Kraken again blow a multi-goal lead as they fall to Panthers

By Geoff Baker Seattle Times

SUNRISE, Fla. – Another blown multigoal lead, plus a bad puck bounce off the glass on the game’s decisive goal could have had Jared McCann and his Kraken teammates shrouded in postgame gloom again.

And yet, there was optimism emanating from the visitors’ dressing room following Saturday night’s 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers, namely due to the way the Kraken had gone toe-to-toe with last spring’s Stanley Cup finalists until the unlucky bounce at the end. To hear McCann, who’d opened the night’s scoring by his team, this latest game echoes progress made throughout this current road trip to cap what’s been a brutal schedule their opening 10 games against mainly playoff teams from last season.

“It’s a huge step in the right direction,” McCann said after his team came within minutes of securing at least a point for the third straight road game. “I know that I keep saying it, but we’ve just got to keep playing simple hockey. We’re playing some good teams right now.

“We’ve got to realize that we’re not going to score seven or eight goals a game. We’ve got to be able to win a game 2-1.”

For the third straight game, it looked as if they’d have enough to win as the Kraken went up 2-0 midway through on McCann’s breakaway deke goal on Sergei Bobrovsky, then Eeli Tolvanen’s first of the season on a deflection of a McCann shot in the second.

But the Panthers got one back just more than a minute later on a power play as Gustav Forsling ripped a one-timed slap shot by Daccord from the left point. Just 11 seconds after that, Anton Lundell won a faceoff cleanly against Matty Beniers, and Dmitry Kulikov unloaded a shot that Matthew Tkachuk deflected knuckleball style behind Daccord to even things up.

Daccord, given a third straight start by the Kraken while Philipp Grubauer was again a healthy scratch, stopped 35 of the 38 pucks sent his way. But with just 5:52 to play in regulation, Josh Mahura dumped a puck into the Kraken’s end and Daccord raced out of his net to play it off one of the corner glass stanchions – posts used to hold panes of glass in place.

The glass at newly named Amerant Bank Arena was installed fewer than two years ago for the NHL All-Star Game and is known to be somewhat bouncy in places. As Daccord went to play the puck, it took an odd carom right past him and on to the stick of Cousins – who didn’t miss the wide-open net.

Daccord was pulled in the final minute for an extra attacker, but the Kraken couldn’t add to their total. They’ve scored two goals or fewer in seven of their first nine games of this brutal opening stretch of 10 that concludes Monday against Tampa Bay. Still, McCann was pleased with how his team kept going at the Panthers throughout, holding a 15-10 edge in shots that final period.

“Obviously, their last goal there was a very, very lucky bounce off the stanchion,” McCann said. “I’m proud of the way we played tonight, especially Joe (Daccord). Joe made some huge saves for us again and he definitely deserved better.”

Daccord took full blame for the mishap, despite being known as a strong puckhandler who helps his team by being aggressive on plays such as that.

“That one was on me – I should have stayed in the net,” he said. “You know, late game, tie game, the stanchions here are pretty bouncy and they stick out a lot. It was just an unfortunate bounce but I should have just stayed in the net and at least given myself a chance to make the save there, so it’s unfortunate. I feel like I let the team down tonight, but overall I felt we played a really good game.”

So did coach Dave Hakstol, who said Daccord will learn to temper his enthusiasm in certain late situations with pucks coming in high off the glass. Otherwise, he felt Daccord gave his team a chance to win and that the final result should have been different.

“I was asked a couple of nights ago if we deserved better,” he said of the Kraken blowing a late lead and losing to Carolina in overtime. “I thought we deserved better in the third period tonight.”

Hakstol shrugged off the power play goal his team allowed as one of those things that happens in a game. He was less pleased with the faceoff loss that led to the tying goal seconds later.

“In the second period, we spent a little too much time in our own zone,” he said. “A little too much time. They won more faceoffs in that zone than we did. We didn’t break out cleanly enough. So, credit their pressure a little bit for that. They had a couple of stretches that second period where they had good pushes. But we pushed right back in the third.”

Hakstol said the third period was exactly the type of pushback response his team needed on the road. “I don’t believe we gave up a scoring chance until the bounce off the glass went in the back of the net.”

And he hopes it continues as the trip wraps up for a 2-5-2 team just trying to survive this early season barrage of top opponents.

“We played a hard road game tonight,” he said. “That was a hard-fought game … our team played hard and responded in different scenarios when there are momentum swings, which is going to be the case in another team’s building.”