The Kraken are back on the ice after a week-long hiatus, and they look very much like…well, the Kraken. Seattle outshot Arizona 36-27, but spent 55 minutes playing from behind anyway. The good news is that Seattle’s special teams wasn’t a gigantic letdown tonight — I mean, they didn’t score a power play goal in two attempts, BUT they also didn’t allow one. I will take that tradeoff on many nights. Let’s go through it again.
The first extremely Kraken event of the game came early on when Seattle allowed a goal within the first five minutes. It’s been an issue all season, and it has not gone away despite the improving play of the goaltenders. This time it was a careless defensive zone turnover from Adam Larsson that led to a Phil Kessel goal.
We can give some credit to Janis Moser for getting his stick in the way of that pass, but that’s really one that Larsson doesn’t need to make. If you’re going behind-the-back and between-the-legs, you better be damn sure there isn’t an opponent stick right behind you.
Seattle bounced back and generated plenty of chances of their own after that. They finished the period outshooting Arizona 15-8. Mark Giordano rang a big slapshot off the post midway through, and Vince Dunn followed it up with a shot off the post of his own just a few minutes later. That was when you knew it was just going to be one of those games.
Seattle began the second on the power play thanks to Jeremy Lauzon. We’ve spent enough time bemoaning Lauzon’s own penalty-taking, so I feel it’s important to point out that his great little dangle at the blue line towards the end of the first period got Antoine Roussel reaching in and sent Roussel to the box for hooking. Seattle didn’t score on the power play, but they did generate some good chances and finished it with 5 shots on net.
That brings us to another very Kraken theme of this game — it’s that thing where the opposing goaltender, whoever they are, plays like Marc-Andre Fleury for the evening. Tonight, it was Karel Vejmelka.
Vejmelka has 26 career starts in the NHL and a .900 save percentage. He allowed 5 goals to the Vancouver Canucks the night before this one, and it seemed the time was right for Seattle to get their offense on the right track. Vejmelka had other ideas.
The good news from this period was that Seattle’s penalty kill looked legitimately good on two separate occasions. They killed off two penalties and allowed a grand total of one shot on goal between them. It wasn’t a ton of blocks either, they really clamped it down in the neutral zone and prevented the Coyotes from getting set up in the offensive zone for the majority of those 4 minutes.
The bad news from this period was that Arizona added another goal at even strength. This time it was on a Nick Schmaltz semi-breakaway. Philipp Grubauer got a piece of the shot with his glove, but not quite enough. Through two periods, it was 2-0 Arizona.
The third period started with a bang when short king Colin Blackwell got himself a shorthanded goal with an absolute LASER of a wrist shot.
That’s about as pretty a shot as you’ll see all year. Technically it goes down as an even strength goal and I am personally furious at this as it’s pretty clear that 3 full seconds run off the clock after the puck goes in. I will be writing a very sternly-worded letter to Gary Bettman to get this injustice corrected, but the important thing is the goal counts and the Kraken were back in this game.
That is, until the third extremely Kraken event of this game happened. That’s right, it’s everyone’s favorite time: the answer goal allowed. Seattle got hemmed into their own zone and forgot to cover Anton Stralman, who flipped home a rebound to give Arizona their 2-goal lead back just 96 seconds after Blackwell’s goal.
I’m not sure we need to rehash just how bad allowing a goal immediately after scoring has been, so I’ll just say the problem is still very much there.
The Kraken kept at it throughout the third, and just as it seemed as though it would all be in vain, Calle Järnkrok gave us reason to hope again.
This one came on a great rush play with a beauty of a pass from Yanni Gourde. Gourde and Alex Wennberg both got assists here, moving the pair to the top of the assists column among Kraken players — Wennberg with 18 and Gourde with 15.
The energy came back once again with this goal, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Grubauer went to the bench with about 2 minutes to go and the Kraken offense never managed to get set up in the offensive zone with the extra attacker. Arizona would eventually add two empty netters (the final very Kraken event of the game)to make the final score of this one 5-2.
Seattle next takes the ice this Friday, February 11th in Anaheim against the Ducks at 7pm PT.