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Kraken take down Sharks 3-2, win second straight

Confirmed: A Kraken could totally take a Shark

San Jose Sharks v Seattle Kraken Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

The Kraken were riding high following their recent shootout victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. The win stopped a nine game slide in the “L” column, and if there’s a single team in the National Hockey League it feels a little extra special to defeat these days, it’s the Chicago franchise.

Tonight they hosted the San Jose Sharks, a Pacific division rival, and a team they were expected to compete with for a playoff spot in 2021-22. That doesn’t look to be the case, but the Sharks are middle-of-the-pack in the Pacific, and with the help of a little puck luck, a team the Kraken have a shot at beating any night.

First Period

If there’s one thing the Kraken needed, it was a fast start. Playing from behind hasn’t worked well for Seattle, because the equalizer is so often quickly followed by another goal against. Let’s see if they can... Oh, the Sharks scored. Only 38 seconds into the game, Tomas Hertl gave the visitors a lead before many fans took their seats.

Philipp Grubauer hasn’t been the star goalie Ron Francis thought he signed back in the summer, but he can’t take much heat on the first goal against. The Kraken’s Alex Wennberg had possession in the corner, without an opposing player in his face, and he made an ill-considered pass across the front of his own net. Intercepted, it bounced off sticks and skates until Hertl hammered it home.

The next few minutes passed uneventfully, with shots spread evenly between the teams but no more goals either way. With seven minutes left in the period, Erik Karlsson, who finally removed his mullet this offseason, took two minutes for holding. The Kraken were unable to capitalize and the low event first period continued.

Like many Kraken games this season, the team doesn’t look overmatched, as they’re able to skate with any other NHL club, but the lack of finish is a regular theme in the inaugural season. Let’s hope period two treats the home team better.

Second Period

The first few shifts in the second period kept to the script. Yanni Gourde almost repeated Wennberg’s gaff from earlier in the game, a giveaway glancing off Grubauer’s shoulder and going high. The bounce the Kraken were looking for led to more good news as the puck went the other way shortly after and Carson Soucy scored the tying goal. Assisted by Giordano and Appleton, the game was 1-1.

Happily, the team didn’t surrender the follow up goal in the moments immediately following their own, the 1-1 score holding fast. That looked like it might change when Timo Meier was sent in all alone but Grubauer made a great stop on the Swiss winger’s wrist shot. The big save was followed by a Ryan Donato goal off a rebound. The home crowd cheered briefly, but Donato was well offside on the zone entry, and after the review they took the score back down to even.

Sharks goaltender Adin Hill looked beatable tonight, and the Kraken didn’t take long to reassert themselves. With 11:35 remaining, Soucy scored his second of the night. No doubt on this five hole shot, Kraken took their first lead of the evening on Soucy’s first career multi-goal game. They didn’t show it on tv but it’s safe to assume Davy Jones, the new team dog, got a treat as part of the celebrations.

San Jose Sharks v Seattle Kraken Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

On the ensuing face-off at centrer ice, Morgan Geekie took a stick in the chin and the Kraken went to their second 5-on-4 advantage of the evening. With time ticking down on the penalty it looked like the Sharks would kill it off, when Logan Couture took a hooking penalty. Seven seconds of 5 on 3 and another 1:53 of 5-on-4 passed uneventfully.

Author’s note: Ryan Donato looks great tonight. The 25-year-old restricted free agent was a hero against Chicago and is noticeable once again. Getting an extension in place for the center has to be high on Francis’ priority list. [Editor’s note: he’s absolutely right]

Back to the action, San Jose’s Adam Raska hit Captain Mark Giordano and both he and Soucy took exception. A small scrap followed, Gio getting a couple revenge licks in, but the Kraken came out of the altercation with an extra minor penalty (Soucy, cross-checking).

While it wasn’t without moments of worry, the Kraken PK showed Soucy they appreciated him sticking up for a teammate and when he left the box the score held at 2-1, just as it would when the second period ended.

Third Period

With twenty minutes to go, the home club were protecting a lead and looking at their first winning streak in a long while (Nov. 27th & 29th). Soucy continued his domination of the scoresheet, albeit in the penalty column, with a slashing call at 17:13. In the offensive zone, it wasn’t a great play to make. A solid kill offered San Jose little in the way of offensive chances and the one goal lead held.

Continuing to play a very complete game, the Kraken managed some sustained o-zone pressure and, as a result, a puck recovered behind the net by Morgan Geekie was sent in front where Calle Järnkrok was waiting. He snapped it home and gave the Kraken a little insurance — 3-1 for the home team.

With exactly 11 minutes left, Jeremy Lauzon went full Lauzon, taking a holding penalty on the Sharks’ Adam Raska. It wasn’t a blatant call, but he definitely tied the opposing skater up, forcing his team to play shorthanded once again. The insurance goal came in handy, because Timo Meier brought the Sharks a goal closer within 40 seconds of the penalty being called.

Anaheim Ducks v Seattle Kraken
Kraken defenceman Jeremy Lauzon, seen here on his way to his “office.”
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Yet another penalty against the Kraken, this time a high sticking call (Lauzon again), put everyone on edge. A Kraken PK that looked good for most of the night managed that kill only to be put back out there immediately after a bench minor for “too many men.” They say that penalty is usually the coach’s fault, but the penalty killers were a tired bunch after the two Lauzon calls.

Another successful kill, but there was a feeling that the Kraken couldn’t take any other penalties if they wanted to hold on for the win. Kraken all-star Jordan Eberle nearly put them ahead by two again, but the shot hit Gourde’s skate and stayed out as the clock ticked toward 4 minutes to go in the third and final period.

Two minutes later, the Kraken lead still held and all eyes were on the Sharks’ net, waiting for the goaltender to come out. It happened with 90 seconds to go, though Hill had to return to his net briefly following a whistle and face-off in the neutral zone. A very soft hooking call on Mason Appleton with a minute to go only added to the stressful finish.

The penalty killers, exhausted and overworked tonight, found a way to finish it out despite the 6-on-4. Just as Donato and Grubauer caught the eye early in the game with stellar play, Kraken defender Adam Larsson had a monster of a night, controlling things in his own zone and limiting a good Sharks powerplay. He looks like the sort of player the Edmonton Oilers could sorely use (Edmonton lost 6-0 to a very good Florida Panthers club tonight). Sorry, not sorry, Oilers but we’re keeping him.

Kraken win! Davy Jones the team pup is undefeated and the team has two victories in a row. Bring on the St. Louis Blues tomorrow night (7pm PST).