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Morning Swim: Kraken can’t crack Caps, concede contest 5-2

The season’s Washington vs Washington battle ends tied 1-1

Seattle Kraken v Washington Capitals Photo by John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images

The Kraken were unable to complete an improbable season sweep against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night, falling 5-2 in Capital One Arena. There were still things to celebrate, most notably captain Mark Giordano reaching the 1,000 NHL games milestone — an impressive feat for anyone, but even rarer for an undrafted player. Seattle couldn’t bring home a victory for him though, but they sure did put forth a good effort for him.

Lopsided thought the final score was, Seattle did hang in there with Washington for pretty much the entire game, and if more of it was spent at 5-on-5 they could have won it outright. But, well, it wasn’t all spent at 5-on-5.

The PK cools off

The Kraken have been more aggressive on the penalty kill lately and it has, until Saturday night, paid large dividends. Over seven games, dating back to February 17th, Seattle had outscored their opponents 3-2 while killing penalties. The tenacious nature of the PK unit was highlighted in the last game against Nashville, when the Kraken outshot the Predators 4-0 while the Predators were on the power play in the third period. But alas, the PK unit could not hold up against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

We all know where he is, we know exactly what’s coming, and yet he can still rifle that puck so hard and with such accuracy that it just doesn’t matter. He’s now two goals shy of tying Jaromir Jagr at third on the all-time goals leaderboard.

Washington scored on both of their power play opportunities in this one. The first one came at the hands of Connor Sheary, who buried a rebound on the back door after a couple unfortunate bounces out front. Washington managed 6 unblocked shots on that first power play, and in a lot of ways this one felt like more of an inevitability than a stroke of bad luck.

Jaden Schwartz is back

Jaden Schwartz made his return to the lineup this weekend after missing the last 25 games with a hand injury. He took the Kraken’s first penalty too, after an awkward tussle with Dmitry Orlov in the corner that sent Orlov headfirst into the boards. He finished the night leading all Kraken forwards in time on ice with over 18 minutes played. He also led the team with 6 shots on goal, but none of them made it through goaltender Vitek Vanecek.

“Legs felt pretty good for being out for so long,” said Schwartz after the game. “Near the end of the shifts you could tell that I didn’t have the same jump after 30, 35 seconds. I tried keeping them short. Overall the timing and everything was pretty good.”

He had a great chance to get the team back within one during a third period power play, but his rebound attempt just wouldn’t go. Despite the blanks on the stat sheet, this game was quite encouraging as far as Schwartz is concerned. Big minutes, lots of shots, and even tied for the team lead in hits with three. His presence will be a huge boost to Seattle’s forward core for the end of this year.

Colin Blackwell heats up

Colin Blackwell built off of a two-point night against Nashville earlier in the week and earned his second goal in as many games to kick off the middle period of this one. Seattle trailed 2-1 after the first period, but it took less than a minute into the second period for Blackwell to tie the thing up.

It was another good hard-working goal for Blackwell, who briefly lost control of the puck after entering the offensive zone before finding it and ripping a wrister over the shoulder of Vanecek. He’s been back on a line with Yanni Gourde these last few games and the energy those two bring to a line is something to behold. Over the last three games, the forward line of Blackwell, Gourde, and Mason Appleton has outshot their opponent 19-10 and scored two of Seattle’s seven goals. Head coach Dave Hakstol saw enough from this group to keep them together even with the returns of Schwartz and Jared McCann, and it paid off again tonight with that Blackwell goal. Keep an eye on this line moving forward.

Joonas Donskoi scored

We went so long without a Donskoi goal to start the year, and while he already broke the seal last month I still feel compelled to give our boi his own section whenever he gets one on the board.

Keep it up Donnie!

Final thoughts

  • It sucks that the Capitals spoiled Gio’s 1,000th game. I will forever hold that roster personally responsible for causing our captain emotional discomfort.
  • Calle Järnkrok remained on the top line with Jared McCann and Jordan Eberle, and I kind of love it? He’s played well recently (8 points in his last 11 games) and being able to step into a bigger role allows Seattle to spread their offensive ability throughout the lineup.
  • Alison Lukan took over for JT Brown as the color commentator and crushed it. I will be very sad when she inevitably gets hired by another team to do that full-time next season and we lose her on our local broadcast.

Seattle will get right back to it tonight, Sunday March 6th, against the Carolina Hurricanes at 4pm Pacific.