SEATTLE (AP) — It took all of 45 games for the Seattle Kraken to match the win total from the franchise’s disappointing inaugural season.
It also landed Seattle a spot few expected the Kraken to see this season: first place.
Ryan Donato had two goals and an assist, and Andre Burakovsky scored 1:10 into overtime to give the Kraken a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
Seattle snapped a two-game losing streak and picked up its 27th victory, matching its total from last season when the Kraken finished 27-49-6. The win combined with Vegas’ loss to Detroit moved Seattle into a first-place tie with the Golden Knights in the Pacific Division, although the Kraken have a better points percentage.
“It tells me the work that the group in here has done. I mean, that’s the bottom line, right?” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s what we’re here for. You’re here to compete for a playoff spot and positioning, and No. 1 on the list — continue competing every night for important points that go into the bank toward a playoff berth.”
Donato powered Seattle to an early 2-0 lead, but New Jersey rallied. Erik Haula’s short-handed breakaway goal at 6:04 of the third period tied it at 2.
Brandon Tanev put the Kraken in front again at 7:51, but New Jersey forced overtime with another late goal. Nico Hischier jabbed the rebound off Jack Hughes’ shot past Seattle goalie Martin Jones with 1:14 left, capping an extended flurry of activity around the net after the Devils pulled goalie Mackenzie Blackwell.
It was the second straight game that New Jersey forced overtime with a late goal after pulling the goalie. Hughes scored with 8.6 seconds left in regulation against San Jose on Monday. The Devils eventually won in a shootout.
Burakovsky’s 13th goal of the season slipped under Blackwell’s pad.
“I think I was just lucky. I don’t know who it was, (Jesper) Bratt maybe, it hit his stick and went five-hole,” Burakovsky said. “I mean, that’s not really what I was trying to do but it worked out.”
New Jersey had won five straight games overall and seven in a row on the road. It missed out on a chance to sweep a five-game trip, its longest of the season.
Despite picking up nine of a possible 10 points on the trip. coach Lindy Ruff was disappointed with the performance.
“It turns out to be a good trip. I mean, you’re happy anytime you can get that amount of points,” he said. “We’re not happy with the way we’re playing. Didn’t like how we played tonight. Lost too many battles. Gave up too many situations that are preventable.”
Damon Severson scored midway through the second period to pull New Jersey within 2-1.
Jones made 27 saves and won for the eighth time in his past nine starts. Mackenzie Blackwood made 36 saves, keeping the Devils in the game by withstanding an early onslaught of shots by the Kraken.
Donato scored nearly identical goals, snapping an eight-game stretch when he failed to find the back of the net. Donato scored in five of six games in December and then went cold with just four points during the eight-game goal drought.
He got his first goal at 12:27 of the first when he snapped a wrist shot from the right circle over Blackwell’s glove and under the crossbar.
The second goal came from nearly the same spot on the ice and gave Seattle a 2-0 lead at 4:52 of the second.
New Jersey F Nathan Bastian returned after missing 22 games with an upper-body injury. ... Seattle played without F Jaden Schwartz (undisclosed) and D Justin Schultz (undisclosed). Schwartz missed his fourth straight game, while Schultz missed his third game of the season. Schultz was limited to a season-low 10:12 of ice time on Tuesday in Edmonton.
Devils: New Jersey returns home to host Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Kraken: Host Colorado on Saturday.