Under normal circumstances, it was perhaps coming down to overtime.
But to get there, the Seattle Kraken had to get through one more face-off.
That’s where progress was thrown into a tailspin.
K’Andre Miller’s goal from the point through traffic with 33.7 seconds left in regulation, following a face-off win by the New York Rangers in the Kraken defensive zone, was the difference to help the Rangers hang on, 3-2 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Miller, who broke a 27-game goal scoring drought, was able to use space attained off the face-off to release his snap shot after Kraken forward Riley Sheahan raced out to cover the point shot. But Sheahan was flattened, away from the puck by Chris Kreider.
The play continued without an interference call, and Miller scored from the point.
Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol was asked to elaborate on the play immediately after the game.
“I think I’m going to just stay away from it,” Hakstol said.
It spoiled a Kraken rally out of a 2-0 deficit that reached a tie game on Yanni Gourde’s one-timed blast from the right circle, during an extra attacker situation and a six-on-four skating situation. With wins on the road hard to come by, the Kraken were on the verge of valid position to win back to back games on the road for the first time since Nov. 27-29.
Instead, at 4-3 in the last seven games and falling to 5-12-2 on the road, they are left to reflect on the effort and the reset ahead for the Boston Bruins.
“I’m not going to waste time on that play, or how I feel about it,” said Hakstol. “I think that would take away from the spotlight of how hard I think our team played.”
The Kraken fired a season high 42 shots on goal, 40 stopped by Igor Shesterkin of the Rangers. They also got the 18th goal of the season from Jared McCann, extending his goal scoring streak to three straight games.
“I think if we have that shooting mentality on those o-zone plays tonight, good things are going to happen,” said Gourde. “We’re going to get a rebound somewhere. You just have to get to second pucks quick and do your best to get there before they do.”
The Rangers went up 2-0 on a first period goal by Mika Zibanejad, a one-timer from the left circle on a first period power play at 11:46 and Alexis Lafrenière’s tap-in, after Zibanejad hit the post, 4:23 into the second period.
NOTES: The Kraken missed the services of Calle Jarnkrok, who took warm-ups but was scratched with an upper body injury … Karson Kuhlman, lining up Chris Kreider in the first period for a hit in the neutral zone, collided with the boards after the hit and would leave the game with an upper body injury, the Kraken announced via Twitter ... Colin Blackwell, taken by the Kraken from the New York Rangers in the expansion draft had a pair of shots, two hits, and went 4-of-5 in the face-off circle facing his former teammates for the first time … New York swept the series in two games.