The Kraken secured another home win on Thursday night in a game in which they dominated the scoring chances. They nearly doubled up the Sabres in shots on goal and controlled 58% of the shot attempts in the game.
The Sabres were a respectable and frankly surprising 5-3-1 heading into Thursday. Going into the year they were a frequent pick to be at the bottom of the league standings. The first weeks of October seemed to prove they wouldn’t be an easy get-right game for Seattle. And in a lot of ways, the first two periods backed that idea up.
Why. Can’t. They. Just. Score.
The first two periods were the definition of Kraken hockey so far in its short history: outshoot the opponent, get great scoring chances, fail to capitalize, let in a couple goals that could’ve been stopped.
At the second intermission, Seattle had an astonishing 30-11 lead in shots on goal over Buffalo. And yet, the game was tied. The common refrain all Fall has been “sure Seattle looks decent but who will score goals for this team?” and, well, perhaps that is a legitimately good question. The Kraken have a team shooting percentage of 8.7%, 20th in the NHL. They’re also generating shots at the 4th-lowest rate in the NHL, per Evolving Hockey. Not a lot of shots taken, fewer than average going in the net, not a recipe for offensive success. Who will save this team?
Jordan Eberle, naturally
It is officially Jordan Eberle season y’all. Somewhat notorious for his slow starts to the season during his time with the Islanders, Eberle appeared to have the same issues in Seattle. But this year’s slow start only lasted half a dozen games.
After being held goal-less for the first 6 games of the season, Eberle has turned it on and now scored 5 in his last 5. He was the hero of the evening, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead in a span of less than 10 game minutes. The most important one was his first, which came at the tail-end of the second period. Despite dominating in the shot totals and scoring chances, the Sabres managed to take a 2-1 lead with under 2 minutes to play in the period. Seattle seemed destined to enter the final frame down a goal in a game they probably should have been winning by more than one. Thankfully, Eberle didn’t let us stew on that idea for too long.
Let’s also appreciate the great awareness by Jaden Schwartz to poke it out from the corner to his linemate. That absolute laser by Eberle was just icing on the cake. The confidence only continued to build from there, as Eberle demonstrated with another beauty less than two minutes into the third period.
That’s a man playing with confidence and aggressiveness, something a team that’s struggled to score sorely needs. The capper of the night came halfway through the third, when Eberle extended the lead to a much more comfortable two goals and sealed the first ever hat trick in Seattle Kraken history.
Another really pretty assist by Schwartz on this one as well. Hopefully we see those two back on a line together a bit more often once Jared McCann returns to the lineup, because the chemistry is palpable right now.
Flotsam and jetsam
Seattle heads to Arizona to play the still-winless Coyotes. It will be a tired Coyotes team too, as they’ll be on the second leg of a back-to-back, coming home from a Friday game against the Ducks in Anaheim. This will be a good chance for Seattle to continue their recent success, so long as they (or Eberle, at least) can turn their scoring chances into goals.