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Morning Swim: Kraken can’t crack Kings, lose 4-2

Daniel Sprong was fun though

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Seattle Kraken v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Kraken came up short in their search for the franchise’s first 3-game winning streak on Saturday night in LA. The Kings looked like the better team early on, and though the Kraken made things interesting midway through, the comeback never materialized. It would be nice to think Seattle didn’t have to play the Kings again any time soon, but, well, we get to do this on Monday too.

Shot locations for the March 26, 2022 game between the Seattle Kraken and the LA Kings

FIRST PERIOD

The Kings came into this game clinging to second place in the Pacific division. Both Edmonton and Vegas are right on their heels, and a playoff spot is far from a sure thing for Los Angeles right now. As such, they played like a team that needed a win in the first period. The King doubled up the Kraken’s shot output 10-5 in the first. It took just over 15 minutes, but LA was finally rewarded for a strong period with a goal from Gabriel Vilardi.

Seattle couldn’t seem to get out of their own zone for minutes prior to the goal, and this one really felt like just a matter of time. Vilardi put a great deflection on the shot-pass from Olli Maatta, and gave the Kings a 1-0 lead.

SECOND PERIOD

The second was much friendlier to the Kraken, but it was still the Kings who scored first. Alex Iafallo turned on the jets at the blue line and caught Jamie Oleksiak flat footed. Carson Soucy came over to help, but that left Anže Kopitar all alone on the right side. That dude knows how to put the puck in the net in that situation.

The Kraken didn’t dwell too long on this one though. At least, Daniel Sprong didn’t dwell on it. Just two minutes later, Soucy sprung Sprong (sorry) in Seattle’s own zone and Sprong took it about 150 feet down the ice and put this one in the back of the net himself.

I knew Sprong had a heck of a shot, but I did not know he had the wheels to outskate that many defenders. That’s two goals in two games in a Kraken sweater for Daniel Sprong.

Seattle kept the pressure on after that goal, and nearly tied it up when Alex Wennberg hit Jordan Eberle with a pass right in front of Kings goaltender Cal Petersen, but Petersen came up with a huge save to preserve the lead.

Despite the pressure to tie it from Seattle, it was the Kings who would eventually score the next goal in this one. Rookie Jordan Spence, playing in his 9th career NHL game, netted his first career goal to give the Kings a 3-1 lead. It was a wrist shot from the point, and though there was traffic in front of Philipp Grubauer, you know that’s one he really would like back.

THIRD PERIOD

It was an eventful start to the third, with Seattle generating a flurry of chances early on but failing to get on to find twine. Jared McCann was helped awkwardly into the boards by LA’s Quinton Byfield, and who else but Morgan Geekie came to McCann’s defense. Geekie and Byfield each received minors for cross-checking. It’s important to see teammates sticking up for each other in a season that’s essentially lost when it comes to playoff contention. McCann, and hopefully Geekie should be key pieces to the offense in the years to come.

Jordan Eberle was called for hooking a short while later, sending the Kings on a 4-on-3 power play, and that’s when they basically put a fork in this one. Kopitar threw a pass off the back boards behind the net that landed right on Sean Durzi’s stick, who buried it home without too much trouble to make this a 4-1 hockey game.

Although the outcome seemed already decided, Morgan Geekie declared the final score of 4-1 to be unacceptable. With just 4 seconds left in the game, he put home a rebound off a Will Borgen shot to make the final score 4-2.

Geekie got tripped up by a couple Kings’ sticks afterwards too, and looked none to pleased about it. Seattle heads back to (sigh) Crypto.com Arena on Monday for a chance at revenge against the Kings, an opportunity Geekie especially seems ready to take.

Final Thoughts

  • Get Daniel Sprong in the top-six already. On a night without Jaden Schwartz in the lineup especially, there’s no reason his offensive ability needs to be buried on the fourth line. Is his defense suspect? Perhaps. But someone needs to fill in in the goal-scoring department, and he seems like he can handle it. Get him next to Yanni Gourde or Jared McCann and prosper.
  • Derrick Pouliot played 15:31 in his Kraken debut. The Kraken outshot the Kings 8-1 with Pouliot on the ice, by far the best margin on the team. He also broke up a 2-on-1 early on in the game too and overall left a solid first impression.
  • Yanni Gourde had himself some chances tonight, as did his linemate Karson Kuhlman. Neither found the back of the net despite their combined 1.14 expected goals, per Natural Stat Trick. Victor Rask played fine alongside them, but I’m going to start banging my hands on the table to get Sprong on this line.
  • I really do not like playing the Kings. Let’s do it again on Monday.