NEWARK, N.J. — Kraken center Yanni Gourde made his first appearance for the Kraken on Tuesday night, centering a line between wingers Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle.
It was the first game action for Gourde since undergoing offseason labrum surgery on his left shoulder back in July right after the Kraken elected him from the Tampa Bay Lightning in the expansion draft. Gourde’s rapid return beat even the most optimistic forecasts that he’d miss the first month or two of the season. Now, after an absence of only four games, the hope was he’d bring some needed energy to a Kraken offense that had scored just twice the past two games.
“I’m super excited to play with these guys,” Gourde said. “They’ve battled the first four games. They’re a great group, and tonight’s a great opportunity to come in and help the group, especially with how the last game went.”
That previous game, a 6-1 loss in Philadelphia on Monday, saw the Kraken lacking energy throughout after a strong opening 10 minutes. Gourde didn’t mince words when asked what his biggest impact might be.
“Bring my energy; that’s it,” Gourde said. “That’s all I’ve got.”
Gourde’s line, the second one out for the Kraken, wasn’t much of a factor in the early going. The Kraken was outshot 15-7 in the opening frame, which devolved into a series of fights and skirmishes after the Devils took an early 2-0 lead.
Eberle did have a golden chance late in the period, missing the net on a breakaway chance.
Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said Gourde had “full availability’’ but the team would keep an eye on his game minutes and situations given it was just his first time back.
“With how hard he has worked and all the energy that he has, we’ll pay attention to that but I’m confident he’ll be OK.’’
Driedger goes on IR; Daccord called up
The Kraken’s second goalie, Chris Driedger, apparently hurt himself badly enough during Monday night’s relief appearance in Philadelphia that he had to go on the injured reserve list. Driedger finished the contest, having taken over from Philipp Grubauer halfway through and allowed just one goal from there.
Driedger must remain on IR a minimum of 10 days backdated to Monday. Joey Daccord was recalled from the American Hockey League affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina to start Tuesday’s game instead of Driedger.
Hakstol said there was no question using anybody but Daccord in goal.
“Philipp’s had four starts here in a very short period of time,’’ Hakstol said of Grubauer. “This would have been a scheduled start for (Driedger) but he’s not able to do that.’’
Hakstol said he had little doubt after his strong training camp that Daccord would be back at some point.
“I didn’t think it would be quite this quick and soon,’’ Hakstol said. “But that’s the nature of the business.’’
Nathan Bastian marked his return Tuesday to the site of the only organization he’d ever known. The Devils chose the 6-foot-4, 205-pound forward in the second round (41st overall) of the 2016 entry draft.
He played 48 games with them over parts of the last few seasons before going to the Kraken in last summer’s expansion draft.
“It feels like the (entry) draft was so long ago that it feels like I’ve kind of been part of the organization for so long,’’ Bastian said of the Devils. “So, it’s pretty exciting to come back.’’
Nonetheless, Bastian said his chance with the Kraken has been “exciting” because he gets to help build something. “Everything’s new, from the rink, to our management and our players. It’s going to take a bit to build it but we’re heading in the right direction.’’
… Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn started the game after missing the last two contests with an undisclosed injury. He picked up an assist in the second period when his shot from the left point was slotted home on the rebound by Riley Sheahan to cut a 2-0 deficit in half.
…Brandon Tanev played in his 300th game on Tuesday, a career in which he’s become known for scrappy play and not backing down. That continued just 2:27 into the first period when he became involved in a fight with Michael McCleod of the Devils, nearly driving him over the boards at one point before the pair wrestled to a draw.