It took 43 games and 6 overtime periods, but Seattle finally did it: they won a game in overtime!
The Kraken went up against the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins — winners of 17 of their previous 19 games — in Pittsburgh, to open up a 4-game road trip. It would take a full team effort from Seattle to get a win in this one, and thankfully they got just that.
Sacrificing the body
The Kraken came out right away with no signs of jetlag in the first, keeping up shot for shot with the Penguins. But Pittsburgh was awarded the first power play and it was a problem. The Pens’ power play only ranks 18th right now in the league, but you’d be a fool to underestimate a unit that still features Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The penalty killing unit for Seattle did their job though, doing everything they could to prevent shots from getting to Philipp Grubauer.
On the night, 12 different Seattle skaters blocked a total of 20 shots. Colin Blackwell and Haydn Fleury each had 3 alone, and Mark Giordano blocked 4. This was clearly a team that came ready to compete with one of the league’s best. They did about as much as you could ask when it came to helping out their goaltender.
Gru continues to get right
It’s no secret that Philipp Grubauer has been having the worst season of his career thus far. His save percentage still hasn’t reached .900, and while he was also not as good when he first changed teams (from Washington to Colorado) it was never as bad as it’s been here. But that all really seems to be turning around.
In his last 5 starts, Grubauer has posted a .910 save percentage and allowed 12 total goals — 5 of which came while the Kraken were down a man. At 5-on-5, he’s allowed only 7 goals over his last 5. That’s the Grubauer this team needs, and it’s the Grubauer he’s been for most of his career.
Marcus Johansson didn’t put up a gaudy stat line tonight, but he was very noticeable — in a good way. Johansson has been getting time on the top line with Jared McCann and Jordan Eberle these past few games and the chemistry has worked well enough for head coach Dave Hakstol to keep that unit in tact for a decent stretch of time, a rarity through the first half of this season. Johansson got the secondary assist on the game-tying goal from Jared McCann late in the third period, but the play we really remember from his night was when he drove hard to the net and nearly gave Seattle a 1-0 lead.
Did he get a goaltender interference penalty here? Yes. Did the Penguins score on the ensuing power play, giving them a lead late in the third period? Also yes. Am I mad about the play? Not at all. He was going hard at the net, trying to make something happen in a 0-0 game, and couldn’t quite pull up in time as Tristan Jarry came to the edge (perhaps just outside) of his crease. We could spend time arguing that this shouldn’t have been interference because Jarry came out too far, but Johnasson gets him hard enough and it’s close enough that I’m not mad about it. I’d be incensed if someone did that to Grubauer and we didn’t get a power play, after all.
Johansson also made some great plays in the defensive zone. Late in the second, during an onslaught of offensive pressure by Pittsburgh, he broke his stick and still managed to make a play.
“One that stands out to me with Jojo,“ said head coach Dave Hakstol after the game, “when he had the broken stick in the second period. Doing what it takes defensively. Those are things we should expect to do.“
With Jaden Schwartz still absent with an injured hand, it’s good to see someone with experience stepping into that top line role and performing well at both ends of the ice.
Adam Larsson keeps on scoring
Larsson has now scored in two straight games and brought his season total up to 4 goals, tying his career high. He’s a big-bodied defensive defenseman. Seattle doesn’t pay him to score goals, but if he can do it then I sure as hell don’t mind. Larsson got his biggest goal of the year in this one, giving the Kraken their first ever overtime game-winning goal on just such a pretty play.
Alex Wennberg, who generally can be expected to pass rather than shoot if ever the opportunity presents itself, played this one perfectly. The patience to wait for the play to set up until he found Larsson all alone, the screen from Järnkrok, and the finish from Larsson were all beautiful. What an absolutely fantastic finish to this game.
Jared McCann revenge game: success!
Jared McCann spent three seasons with the Penguins before coming to Seattle (via the expansion draft, via Toronto). We love to talk about revenge games for players, and boy is it fun when it actually works out. McCann got the game-tying goal in this one on a deflected Vince Dunn shot with under 4 minutes to play in the game. McCann now has 17 goals, 2 shy of his career high and more than any other Kraken player. Give that man the Davy Jones hat.
Seattle has 3 more East coast games on the schedule before the All-Star break. Next up is the struggling New York Islanders on Saturday morning, with the surging New York Rangers on Sunday. On the bright side, the last time Seattle played an early start time game was against the Blackhawks on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and they absolutely dominated that game from start to finish. Let’s hope they can keep this momentum going.