“He was outstanding for us tonight, right from the first period through,” said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol. “A couple saves on the PK were difference-makers and he had to make one more for us right before the buzzer. Really happy for him. He’s worked hard to have that opportunity.
“He was a difference-maker for us tonight.”
Kailer Yamamoto and Alex Wennberg scored for Seattle (13-14-9). The Kraken extended their points streak to seven games (5-0-2) and moved ahead of Calgary in the Pacific Division standings.
Nazem Kadri scored for Calgary (14-16-5). Making his fourth-straight start for the Flames, Jacob Markstrom had 19 saves.
After the conclusion of his first season with the Kraken, Driedger tore his ACL while playing for Canada in the gold medal game of the 2022 world championships.
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The resulting surgery sidelined him most of last season before he returned to action in late February with Seattle’s American Hockey League affiliate in Coachella, where he played for the rest of the season.
“The most adversity I’ve ever faced in my career,” said Driedger, whose last NHL start was May 1, 2022. “It’s been a long road, lot of hours spent with the medical staff putting in hours when the guys are skating and doing my own thing and watching from the stands.
“To come out and finally get back in, it was pretty emotional.”
His biggest stop, keeping the game tied, came on a Flames two-man advantage in the second period when he went from post to post to rob Elias Lindholm at the side of the net after he had been set up for a one-timer by a cross-crease pass from Connor Zary.
“He did amazing,” said Wennberg.
“He played games down there but it’s a different game up here and just making those big saves. He’s winning the game for us.”
Tied at 1, the game-winner came off the stick of Wennberg six minutes into the third when he took a pass from Jared McCann and zipped a quick shot that beat Markstrom inside the post on the short side.
Seattle opened the scoring 2:24 into the game on its first shot when Vince Dunn’s pass sprang Yamamoto on a breakaway. Kadri scored on the power play six minutes later.
“You try to bear down in those situations, of course, we want to score and we want to capitalize on those opportunities,” said Kadri.
“But at the same time, he made some great saves, timely saves to keep his team in it on the road.”
It was Seattle’s 200th regular season game in franchise history. Defenceman Adam Larsson is the only player to have played in every one.
At 304 consecutive games, Larsson has the league’s fifth-longest active Iron Man streak.
© 2023 The Associated Press