After a strong road trip and a stretch of 5-2-1 beating some of the best teams in the NHL, the Kraken welcomed back captain Mark Giordano (COVID) and forward Calle Järnkrok (an “undisclosed injury”), both of whom had missed the previous six games.
Tonight the Kraken picked up their second straight home loss, falling to the Winnipeg Jets in a game that looked closer to the Kraken of the early season, not the Kraken of Thanksgiving when they were taking down teams like the Panthers, Capitals, and Oilers.
Oh no, not again.
The first ten minutes have been treacherous for Seattle and the Kraken have had a terrible habit of giving up goals early all season, forcing to play from behind most of the game. A benign-looking play behind the Kraken net suddenly transformed into disaster when Carson Soucy turned the puck over, allowing Winnipeg’s Paul Statsny to find Dominic Toninato with an open shot, and just like that, Winnipeg was up 1-0.
Winnipeg turned on the...afterburners and kept the pressure in the Seattle zone, controlling puck possession and nearly making it 2-0 off an Alex Wennberg when Pierre-Luc Dubois hit the post...then hit the other post.
After that ping-ping off the posts, Seattle settled down and started to create their own chances, none better than former Jet Mason Appleton on a breakaway...but couldn’t get the shot on goal.
Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck, previewed here as one of the best in the NHL, was up to the task. Philipp Grubauer also stopped everything else in the period, and Seattle escaped no further harm after one period.
Both goalies were on their games. Hellebuyck stoned Yanni Gourde on a great chance, and on the other end, Grubauer made two great saves to keep the game 1-0.
The Kraken owned the second period as they have for much of the season with 72% of the shot quality(!), but could not solve the goalie. Seattle had a full power play that didn’t score and a 16-second power play that also did not score, and we went to the second intermission with the same score as the first: 1-0 Winnipeg.
One minute into the third, Jaden Schwartz was clipped by a high stick and went down and the Kraken seemed a little discombobulated with the no-call and just left Kyle Connor to get open for a high-danger shot, and the Jets capitalized.
Seattle had a couple of chances to get back into it after being awarded two power plays, but Seattle’s power play could not create any real opportunities and they squandered their man advantage against the 31st-ranked penalty kill. Seattle had 5 power plays this game (though one of them was for only a few seconds) and only managed 3 shots on goal.
Con-heads everywhere rejoiced later on in the third, because while Connor Hellebuyck was stopping everything on one end, Kyle Connor was making nifty plays on the other. His move at the blue line created a great chance and he buried his second of the night for the final goal of the game, putting the Jets up 3-0. Oh, and it was also his birthday.
This was, in a lot of ways, representative of many Kraken games this season: stretches of very strong play, but trouble finishing and an anemic power play kept them off the scoresheet. It is disappointing to see them regress a little after having such a strong couple of weeks, but sometimes it’s easy to forget they’re an expansion team that will have a lot of ups and downs early on. Directionally they are getting better, and that’s what we want to see ultimately.
Next game: Saturday, 12/11 at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets, whom the Kraken lost to in overtime back in October. Puck drop: 7:00 PT / 10:00 ET