Sprong scores, Daccord saves 23, but Kraken fall 2-1 in shootout loss to Predators

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - MARCH 23: Joey Daccord #35 of the Seattle Kraken makes the save against Cole Smith #36 of the Nashville Predators during an NHL game at Bridgestone Arena on March 23, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI vi

Joey Daccord made 23 saves and Daniel Sprong scored his 18th goal of the season, but the Seattle Kraken fell 2-1 in a shootout to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night. 

Matt Duchene and Philip Tomasino converted shootout attempts on Daccord as the Kraken fell to 0-4 in shootout decisions this season. It was ultimately a missed opportunity to put some more distance between themselves and Nashville in the standings. However, the two teams meet again in Nashville on Saturday afternoon.

"This time of year when there's a lot on the line, that's the type of hockey that it's going to be," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "It came down to the shootout and unfortunately we didn't get the extra point, but we've got to turn the page quickly, look at a couple things, a couple areas to be a little bit better in and pretty much expect a very similar game Saturday afternoon."

Daccord was terrific in his second straight start for the Kraken in place of an ill Philipp Grubauer. Daccord earned the victory in Seattle's 5-4 overtime decision over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. He was given the nod Thursday night over Martin Jones and came through with his best performance in eight career games for the Kraken.

"He was awesome. He was great for us. He plays the puck really well. …. It was unfortunate that we couldn't get it done for him, but I thought he played an awesome game today just like he did the other night," center Morgan Geekie said.

Despite Daccord's showing, the Kraken were unable to overcome the play of Juuse Saros in net for the Predators as he made 26 saves on 27 shots. It was a bit of a revenge performance for Saros against the Kraken. In a November matchup between the two teams in Seattle, Saros was pulled after just 16:25 after allowing four goals on six shots.

"It was a good hockey game. We had our chances," forward Jordan Eberle said.

"We had our looks to score offensively. We just couldn't capitalize. Saros is obviously a good goalie. It was just a good game. That's what playoff hockey is like."

The Predators are hanging onto the playoff chase despite missing several previously key pieces of their lineup. Filip Forsberg has missed over a month with an upper body injury and defenseman Roman Josi is also currently day-to-day and missed the contest with an upper body as well. Additionally, the Predators were a seller at the trade deadline as they sent Mattias Ekholm to Edmonton, Nino Niederreiter to Winnipeg, Tanner Jeannot to Tampa Bay and Mikael Granlund to Pittsburgh.

But even with those missing pieces, they've continued to find victories to stay in the hunt. Seattle holds a six-point advantage in the standings over the Predators following the shootout loss. The Predators and Calgary Flames are the two teams outside the current playoff positions that could theoretically supplant the Kraken for a playoff spot.

"We had our opportunities. They're a good team over there fighting just as much as we are," Geekie said.

Daniel Sprong gave the Kraken the lead in the first period on his 18th goal of the season. Sprong controlled a long cross-ice backhanded pass from Geekie as it took him behind the goal line. But Sprong threw the puck off the backside of Saros and into the net for a 1-0 Seattle lead.

The Predators tied it up in the second period. A turnover in the neutral zone quickly sent possession back into Seattle's end. Kiefer Sherwood found a trailing Tyson Barrie for a hard wrist shot. The rebound kicked hard off Daccord and directly to Sherwood for a finishing effort that tied the game at 1-1 with six minutes left in the period.

A late boarding penalty from Brandon Tanev with 1:31 left to play in regulation created a tense finish for Seattle. Alex Wennberg blocked Nashville's only shot attempt and Matty Beniers got a short-handed chance to close out regulation to secure a point in the standings.

The power play extended into overtime and the Predators had six shots on net in the extra frame as Daccord came up big to force the shootout. Duchene beat Daccord as Jared McCann caught the left post as Nashville took the advantage. Daccord and Saros traded stops of Luke Evangelista and Eberle in the second round before Tomasino's goal secured the win for Nashville.