Hours before Friday’s game against the Calgary Flames, Kraken center Yanni Gourde pointed to shot blocking as one reason the penalty kill has been solid lately. During the second period he got the chance for a demonstration.
Michael Stone’s slap shot struck his leg just over five minutes into the middle period. For about 20 painful seconds, Gourde tried to get up and rejoin the play, but eventually he crumpled, the whistle blew and he was helped off the ice.
Already missing forwards Matty Beniers and Jaden Schwartz and defenseman Justin Schultz, all of whom are out with undisclosed concerns, the Kraken caught a massive break when Gourde returned later in the period.
“I’m not sure how he was when he took his boot off. I’m sure it doesn’t feel real good,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “You love to see that.”
“There’s no surprise that he has such a good reputation and he’s had so much success in the league. He’s a warrior,” forward John Hayden, who made his second appearance with the Kraken after being called up from the American Hockey League, added. “That was a big jolt for us.”
Seattle’s Eeli Tolvanen briefly closed a two-goal gap to one in the third period, but the Kraken couldn’t be jolted completely out of a weak showing and fell 5-2 to the Flames.
After one last game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, almost all of Seattle’s battered roster gets a well-timed break for the All-Star weekend.
“This is normal stuff during a season. It happens. Adversity hits,” Gourde said Friday. “It’s how you manage it, how you go out there and you get the job done again.
“In this organization, one thing we know this year is the depth and the depth scoring, the ability of defending. Everyone through the lineup can do that.”
Donskoi details concussion, recovery
In a magazine that covers the area surrounding his hometown of Raahe, Finland, Kraken forward Joonas Donskoi described the concussion symptoms that have held him out of the 2022-23 season.
On Sept. 29 in a preseason road game against the Vancouver Canucks, Donskoi took the ceremonial puck drop. He became tangled with teammate Kole Lind during the game and sat on the bench for a short time before heading down the tunnel.
Finnish magazine Raahen Seutu reported Donskoi hit his head on the ice and remembers the incident. He suffered the seventh concussion of his career, he said, accompanied by “severe” headaches, dizziness and vision problems.
Donskoi has been described only as day to day with an upper-body injury, albeit on injured reserve, ever since.
He’s remained around the team and served as an honorary captain during the Kraken’s skills competition Jan. 22.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been out there, so it was good to see the fans and experience that again,” he said.
He brought his 1½-year-old son onto the ice during the skills competition and spent much of the afternoon trying to keep him from attempting his own breakaway.
“You always have to think, since I’m a family man, and I should be a functional father for many more decades,” Donskoi, 30, said in a translated statement to Raahen Seutu.
The Finnish outlet said Donskoi was continuing with rehabilitation, though he hasn’t returned to the ice yet. He hasn’t thought about ending his career.
“Of course you have to be smart — we will discuss all options with the doctors when the time comes,” he said. “At the moment, I am satisfied that I have been able to train. This has been by far the hardest season in my own career. I would love to go back, but I can’t say when. These are difficult things, but you have to try and go one step at a time.
“The team is on the road half of the time, so it’s a bit of an outsider feeling, but I’ve always tried to be in a good mood when I’m in the hallway. I try to cheer up guys and help when I can. If you’re looking for something positive from this, (it’s that) I’ve been able to spend more time with my family when I’m not on a (road) trip.”
Donskoi is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
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