The Kraken got to play spoiler a little on Sunday evening when they hosted the Dallas Stars. It was an impressive full-team outing from Seattle — there was good defense, incredible goaltending, and multiple forwards sprung on breakaways, and it culminated in a very entertaining 4-1 victory for the home team. The Stars are, as of this writing, a point behind both Vegas and Nashville for a wildcard playoff spot in the West, but they’ve also played three fewer games than Vegas to this point. Even so, this is a tight race, and Dallas currently needs every standings point they can get. And yet, they couldn’t manage to steal even one in Climate Pledge Arena on Sunday night.
The first star of this game was goaltender Chris Driedger, and deservedly so. He stopped 29 of 30 shots on net on the night and looked comfortable and in control doing so. This is the kind of goaltending performance the Kraken needed this season, and it’s good to see it finally breaking through.
Driedger willed the Kraken to victory early in the third. Dallas generated 7 of the first 9 shots on goal to open the final frame, and Driedger stopped every one of them. Things were a bit tense there too, as he was still hanging onto a shutout and protecting a 1-goal lead, but he came up big at every turn. The defense helped him out plenty as well in this one, which is always nice to see. There were several times where defenders like Carson Soucy and Jamie Oleksiak were able to tie up their opponents after an inital save by Driedger, limiting the amount of rebound chances Driedger faced on the night. Overall a great bounce-back effort after some mishaps on Friday against Vegas.
Power Kill: Activate
There were only four penalties called in the entirety of this one, three of which went against Seattle. But the Kraken penalty kill looked so dominant that Dallas fans would as well have declined the penalties if that were possible.
Decline all future power plays if this is what you’re going to do— DefendingBigD (@DefendingBigD) April 4, 2022
From the very first penalty, the Kraken refused to allow Dallas to get set up and generate any chances at all. They didn’t even get a shot on net with the man advantage before Jared McCann and Alex Wennberg teamed up for this beauty of a shorthanded goal.
NHL Video Highlight - Jared McCann scores a shorthanded goal against the Dallas Stars to make it 1-0. pic.twitter.com/iOxArj6XGM— Seattle Kraken Gamebot (@KrakenGameBot) April 4, 2022
This is just a straight up smart hockey play from Wennberg and McCann. Wennberg recognized that he was matched up against a forward playing defense in Tyler Seguin, and as such took his time with the puck through the neutral zone. Then we have to give credit to McCann for seeing two Stars heading to the bench for a change and activating through the neutral zone to find the open ice, and eventually finishing the play with a nice wrist shot through the arm of Jake Oettinger.
The Stars didn’t manage a single shot on goal in over four minutes of power play time in this one. And in that same time frame, Seattle generated six shots and one goal of their own. The Kraken penalty killing unit has been more aggressive in the back half of the season, but it’s hard to think of a time it’s been more effective than this.
That Ryan Donato goal though
I’m not even sure what there is to say about this one, so let’s start by watching it several times over.
I’m pretty sure Donato just stole Oettinger’s soul on live television. I didn’t know that was allowed, but he wasn’t penalized for having mitts that were too silky, so I’m taking it. It was such a great move that it nearly overshadows the impressive pass from Carson Soucy. Soucy launched a perfect saucer pass from below his own left circle all the way to Donato at the far blue line, and the puck stayed perfectly flat and settled in so that Donato had a chance to beat Oettinger. Just a phenomenal play all around, 10/10, no notes, great job everyone.
Kuhlman’s first as a Kraken!
It was already a 3-1 game at this point that the Kraken had basically won, but this is such an odd goal that it deserves its own space in the recap. Just look at this perfect bank shot that I’m personally not convinced Karson Kuhlman was even attempting, and bask in the slow burn of that empty net goal.
- Yanni Gourde also scored on a breakaway! It was a long time coming, but the offense really showed up in the third period, and Gourde’s 17th of the season late in the period gave the team the breathing room to really feel comfortable that the win was happening.
yanni breaks free & the rest is history! pic.twitter.com/1ULQ4LOs7v— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) April 4, 2022
- Jared McCann scored a shorthanded goal, which tells us two things: he’s still the man for the job when it comes to scoring goals for this team, and head coach Dave Hakstol may be giving him a decidedly different role for the final few weeks of the year. McCann totaled just over 8 minutes of shorthanded ice time before Sunday’s game. He played a total of 12:46 on Sunday, significantly less than his season average of 16:10.
- Morgan Geekie didn’t show up in the stat sheet, but he had a noticeable impact on the game. He beat out an icing call in the third at the end of a long shift that allowed his line to change, and he backchecked hard in the second to help break up a good scoring chance from Dallas when it was still a one-goal game. He’s making a great case for more ice time next season.
- Daniel Sprong didn’t score, but he did have a breakaway chance with a good move that didn’t quite get through. He looks like he could bring an element to this offense that the team could really use next season.
The Kraken next hit the ice on Wednesday, April 6th in St. Louis when they take on the Blues at 5pm PDT / 8pm EDT.