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Morning Swim: Kraken shut out Blackhawks 2-0

The PK wasn’t too shabby either

Seattle Kraken v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/Bill Smith

The Kraken went to Chicago on Thursday for the second half of a back-to-back after losing a rather miserable game in St. Louis. The stage was set to see a tired and downtrodden team play against the Blackhawks, but that was far from the case. Seattle came out firing despite the short turnaround and came away with a rare shutout victory.

A perfect night for Gru

While he wasn’t exactly tested in the first period, Philipp Grubauer earned his shutout with his performance in the latter two periods. He made 29 saves in total (26 in the last two periods), the most saves in a shutout in Kraken history. The only other shutout in team history also belongs to Grubauer, when he made 19 saves in a 3-0 victory over the Islanders. One of the more memorable saves came in the second period when he took away a sure-fire Sportscenter Top-10 goal from Patrick Kane. Grubauer was in position and ready for this homerun swing of a shot from Kane and was able to swallow it up without a rebound to be found.

The post helped Gru out a couple times in the third to keep the shutout intact (as well as the tenuous 1-goal Kraken lead), but you know what they say — you’ve got to be good to be lucky. Grubauer also made a few saves in the final minute without a stick in his hand, and dear reader, let me tell you I was not excited about the prospect of seeing his shutout disappear on a meaningless goal in the final seconds when he didn’t even have a stick. Luckily that never came to pass, and I will endeavor in the future to refrain from doubting the German Gentleman.

Penalty Killing Pros

The Kraken killed off another six minutes in penalties in this one, with nearly a full two minutes of that being a 5-on-3 advantage for Chicago. It was a dismal power play for Chicago, as they failed to generate a single shot on net with the two-man advantage. There was a brief moment where Alex Wennberg even seemed poised to go on the offensive after a puck slowly cleared the zone, but he seemed to realize (correctly) near center ice that the power kill was maybe not an ideal strategy when down two men.

The Kraken’s aggressive penalty kills in the latter half of the season, frequently referred to as a “power kill,” has been a revelation for the team. It’s had its ups and downs, but when it works it is a beautiful thing to watch. Seattle mounted a 3-on-2 rush while down a man in the second and Jared McCann nearly put home his second shorthanded goal in three games. Seattle has allowed just one power play goal in their last five games (17 opportunities) — a striking return to form after allowing six such goals in the five games prior.

Wenny for the Win

Alex Wennberg put home what would eventually be counted as the game-winner early in the 2nd period with some dirty dangles that I didn’t know he had in him.

Wennberg is generally seen trying to set up his teammates with a perfect pass, but when he gains the zone all by himself and decides to head straight to the net, some beautiful things can happen. Wennberg now has 7 points in his last 9 games (3 goals, 4 assists) and is proving he can handle some top line minutes next to Jordan Eberle.

Final Thoughts

  • The Kraken’s 3 shots allowed in the first period was the fewest they’ve allowed in an opening period this season, and tied for the 2nd-fewest shots allowed in any single period (The Rangers only had 2 in the 2nd on Halloween)
  • Vince Dunn left the second period early after his skates got tangled up with an opponent and he fell hard into the end boards. He didn’t want to put any weight on his right leg as he was helped off the ice and into the dressing room. But the good news is that he was back on the ice to start the third and played regular shifts throughout the final period.
  • Jordan Eberle tallies the Kraken’s 2nd goal of the night late in the third to put a bow on the win, and it was one heck of a snipe.

The Kraken are back in Seattle on Saturday night when they host the Calgary Flames for a not-Gio-revenge-game at Climate Pledge Arena.