The Kraken played an absolutely unhinged 61 minutes of hockey against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. Looking back on it, it’s wild to think that there was a period in which nobody scored. But that’s a true, real thing that happened. Let’s walk back through the pain, the joy, and the resurgent pain that was this game.
The first period was quite eventful for a period that didn’t see any goals get scored. Seattle came out playing energetic and disciplined hockey. The forwards played a 200-foot game so well that Columbus didn’t manage to put a shot on Philipp Grubauer until just before the halfway mark. But unfortunately, goaltender Elvis Merzlikins was playing about as good as he’s ever played and held Seattle scoreless.
The back half of this period started to tilt a bit more towards the Blue Jackets. It tilted so much, in fact, that by the end of the period Columbus actually led in expected goals, per Natural Stat Trick. Fortunately Seattle seemed to have the good version of Philipp Grubauer tonight and he made some huge saves to keep this a scoreless game.
We may have had good-Gru for the first period, but the second period was not so kind. Oliver Bjorkstrand opened the scoring with a legitimately impressive snipe.
I’d take a bit more time to marvel at that shot if it wasn’t against my favorite hockey team, but alas. Jack Roslovic would make it 2-0 just a few minutes later on a deflected pass from Max Domi (*shakes fist* more on him later). But then it was the increasingly-capable Jared McCann stopping the bleeding and finally sneaking one over the top of Merzlikins.
Jared McCann now has 11 goals in 22 games this year. His career-high is 19 in 78 games. I’d go ahead and wager he’s blowing past that mark this season.
It was a short reprieve for the Kraken, however. The previously mentioned Max Domi extended the lead to 3-1 on a breakaway with just over 3 minutes left, then extended it AGAIN to 4-1 in the final 30 seconds of the period. This last one is a goal that Grubauer technically makes the initial save on, but it squeaked (squawk? squuck?) through him just enough for Domi to bury the second chance.
At this point I really thought we might see Chris Driedger, fresh off of his IR stint, come out to start the third. But head coach Dave Hakstol stuck with his guy, and I’m glad because it gave us quite the phenomenal finish.
Seattle needed SOMETHING to give them the energy to spark a 3-goal comeback in the final frame, and luckily that something came in the first few minutes. Alex Wennberg drew a holding penalty, sending Seattle to their first power play of the game, and that’s when something amazing happened. JOONAS DONSKOI SCORED!
MONKEY OFF THE BACK!!!!— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) December 12, 2021
DONNY GETS HIS FIRST OF THE SEASON! pic.twitter.com/vuZwDFHrLF
But wait, get this: upon further review the puck actually bounced off of Jaden Schwartz’s ass, netting Schwartz his 6th of the year and — I mean no offense Jaden, but I am absolutely DEVASTATED about this. Why can’t Donskoi get that rear-end deflection just once? He has to be cursed.
Before we had time to really appreciate this roller coaster of emotions that came with Donskoi scoring, then not scoring, but Seattle still scoring, Morgan Geekie notched one of his own to cut this down to a 1-goal game. There was but 22 seconds between these two goals, the shortest span between two goals in franchise history. It was Geekie’s first goal since November 4th.
And just like that, this game got interesting again. The Kraken pressed hard and gave up plenty of chances in their own end as well, but again it was good-Gru on this side of the ice. Then, with under 4 minutes to play, when people start nervously glancing towards the Kraken end of the ice to see if Hakstol would pull the goalie nice and early, Vince Dunn came to the rescue.
VINCE DUNN HAS TIED IT‼️ pic.twitter.com/5Gw2q1ar1t— ROOT SPORTS™ | NW (@ROOTSPORTS_NW) December 12, 2021
The energy, the momentum, whatever you want to call it, was firmly on Seattle’s side now. Just look at the frustration on Merzlikins after this tally. He came *so close* to breaking that stick in half on the net, knowing he’d played a part in blowing a 3-goal lead in the final period.
And with that, we were headed to the third overtime period this season, and the second against Columbus.
The Blue Jackets won it in the first minute. Marcus Johansson got caught trying to decide which Columbus player he was supposed to be covering and ended up splitting the difference and planting himself a bit to close to Grubauer, setting a screen against his own goaltender. Not exactly an ideal way to end a game.
It was a heartbreaker, watching that miraculous comeback end with another OT loss. Seattle has yet to win in overtime or shootout (again, only 3 opportunities) which really just sucks because winning in overtime or shootout sounds like a lot of fun and I’d like to try it someday. This team really doesn’t know how to play a normal game, something very par-for-the-course as far as Seattle sports go, if we’re being honest.
That’s the third straight loss for Seattle, and they now sit alone at the bottom of the Pacific division. Their next chance to climb up the standings will be this Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks, who they have yet to see this year. Let’s hope the losing streak ends at 3.