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Morning Swim: Kraken lose game, season series to Knights with 5-2 loss

We’ll get ‘em next year

Vegas Golden Knights v Seattle Kraken Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Kraken lost to the Golden Knights for the fourth and final time this season on Friday in Seattle by a final score of 5-2. That score was both buoyed by a couple of empty net goals, and yet was still fairly indicative of the general story of this game. The Kraken were outplayed by their expansion cousins in many ways, and as such were unable to play the spoiler for a Vegas team in desperation mode as they hunt for a playoff spot. Seattle did, however, still push forth with a commendable amount of effort and drive despite the tough season the team has had this year.

How do you solve a problem like Logan?

The Kraken were gracious hosts on Wednesday, gifting Vegas goaltender Logan Thompson his first career shutout. He did not return the favor on Friday. Instead, he continued his shutout streak well into the third period, frustrating the Kraken and their fans. Quite the ungrateful guest, if you ask me.

Thompson stopped the first 44 shots he faced from the Seattle Kraken across the last two games. Per Natural Stat Trick, Seattle generated 3.25 expected goals through five periods of play against Thompson, but just couldn’t quite get one (that counted) to the back of the net in that time. Just over 110 minutes into this grueling quest that seemed to haunt the halls of Climate Pledge Arena, Alex Wennberg finally broke the seal and gave Seattle their first goal against the rookie netminder. The final tallies for Thompson prior to allowing that first goal:

  • 110:44 time on ice
  • 44 saves
  • 3.25 xG against
  • At least 1 save against 15 different Kraken players

That came to an end when Wennberg put home a quick shot after a beautiful little pass from Jared McCann, who had himself a game to remember as well (more on him later).

Defense optional

The Kraken again found themselves trailing 3-0 on Friday in an unfortunate callback to their 3-0 loss a couple days prior. This time the three goal deficit came only halfway through the game. While Philipp Grubauer hasn’t been the goalie everyone in town wanted him to be (and by all accounts, is capable of being) this year, it’s hard to fault him too much for this evening’s final score. The first goal allowed was one he probably wants back, as Jack Eichel tipped a Chandler Stephenson pass in five hole that just barely found its way across the line. It’s worth noting that that one came after a substantial push from Vegas in the offensive zone, and Seattle simply couldn’t find their way out of it. The other two goals he allowed, however, are as much or more on the defense than Gru.

Eichel got his second of the night after a turnover in the Kraken zone led to a shot from just a dozen feet away from the front of the net. Shea Theodore made it a 3-0 game when everyone on Seattle’s side seemed to forget he existed and he was able to skate right down main street from the blue line in and wristed on over the shoulder of Grubauer.

With over 30 minutes still to play, the Kraken were in desperate need of life. Which brings us to...

Jared McCaptain material

Jared McCann is many things to the Seattle Kraken franchise. He’s the team leader in goals and points, and he’s also the first player to ever sign a contract extension with the team. After bouncing around through three teams over the first six years of his career, he seems genuinely excited to have finally found a home in Seattle. With that not only comes the goals (and assists, as seen above) but also a drive to bring the energy to his teammates when they really need it. In his first shift after Vegas took that 3-0 lead, McCann dropped the gloves with Michael Amadio, and told his bench, his coach, and the crowd in the arena that he certainly wasn’t quitting on this game tonight.

That’s McCann’s first fight in over two years and only the sixth of his NHL career. He’s paid to score goals, but he’s not afraid to do whatever he feels he needs to to get his team in the win column, and that’s damn admirable. I’d be shocked at this point if he didn’t get an “A” on his chest at the beginning of next season.

“To me that’s a statement that we’re competing,” said head coach Dave Hakstol after the game. “At that point we’re in a hole, we need something to get the momentum going, to get some life back into the building, to push things our way...that’s hockey right there. That’s him going out and trying to light a fire. And it did, we had a pretty good push over the next several minutes after that.”

While we’re on this topic, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Yanni Gourde going toe to toe with Ben Hutton at the end of the second period as well. Gourde is never one to back down from a challenge, even when his opponent has a half a foot height and reach advantage on him. At the very least, you can’t say this team isn’t going out and competing for one another.

Kole Lind!

In the final minutes of the third, Vegas put away two empty net goals to seal their victory. But in the short time between those empty netters, we got to see a beautiful sight: Kole Lind score his first career NHL goal!

You can actually see the yell he lets out after finally putting one home in his 19th career game in the show. The first one is always the hardest, they say. They also say goals come in bunches. We’ve got another 13 games left of this wayward season, and youngsters like Lind getting a crack in the lineup each night without the fear of being sent down looming behind their back are reason enough to keep an eye on this team. You never know who will surprise you.

The Kraken are back in action this Sunday at 6pm PDT in Seattle when they host another bubble playoff team in the Dallas Stars.