The Kraken played their first-ever ocean creature battle in franchise history taking on the Sharks in San Jose in their first of back-to-back games against California teams.
This time it was Chris Driedger getting the start in net instead of Philipp Grubauer (who presumably will start tonight, as goalies typically do not start both games when played on consecutive days) and he came ready to play, earning the first star of the game in a 3-1 victory, with all four goals coming in the third period. This was a weird one.
Seahawks Kraken have literally never played a normal game.”
The Kraken opened the game with the “Revenge Line” of Joonas Donksoi-Ryan Donato-Alex True, all of whom previously played for the Sharks.
Both teams went back-and-forth with non-stop action and no team gained an edge. Seattle outshot San Jose 11-8, but most of the shots came from outside the circles while San Jose’s shots were of higher quality and closer to the net in the higher danger areas. Jared McCann was the only one creating high-danger changes, the most notable on a 2-on-1 that was stopped by Sharks goalie James Reimer. Aside from that, the most noteworthy thing about the first period is it went by fast.
Both teams took a faceoff with 17:09 left in the period and then they played and played and played without a stoppage. No icing, no offside, no knocked down with a hand pass, no penalties, no goalie freezes, no goals, no deflections out of play, nothing. And the next time there was a stoppage, there was only 5:02 remaining in the period.
The biggest home cheer came during the stoppage when the scoreboard operator informed Sharks fans that Steph Curry is now the NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers, passing Seattle legend Ray Allen. And at the end of one, the game remained scoreless.
Less than five minutes into the second, we saw the play of the game. San Jose’s Erik Karlsson’s shot from the point rebounded onto Sharks forward Matt Nieto’s stick and he had an open net in front of him. Driedger got a piece of the shot, but it wasn’t enough. However, Seattle’s Adam Larsson was there for the rescue, somehow using his stick to keep the puck out of the net.
Look at San Jose’s #13 Nick Bonino, who briefly became a Boni-yes before realizing the improbable reality that the game was somehow still scoreless.
And they played on. Seattle was on their heels a little bit as San Jose controlled the pace of play. However, both goalies were walls and Driedger was sharp, stopping pucks off screens and shutting down high-danger chances. The Sharks outplayed the Kraken and captured a larger share of shot quality, but at the end of two, the Larsson save on the open net loomed large and the game remained scoreless.
Former Shark Joonas Donskoi, He Who Cannot Buy a Goal, shot the puck and got a deflection from former Shark Ryan Donato — who then got a deflection from current Shark Radim Cimek — and suddenly the puck was behind current Shark goalie James Reimer. Revenge is a dish best served by taking a 1-0 lead 6:23 into the third. Seattle hasn’t had many goals in front of the net this season, but this one came through at just the right time.
San Jose tried to tie the game, but Driedger was strong in net, flashing the glove and keeping the puck out of the net. Third-period defensive breakdowns leading to goals have plagued Seattle all season, but this time it was Seattle’s turn to be the one to punish the other team. A neutral zone turnover resulted in Brandon Tanev being left alone in the slot, and Morgan Geekie slid the pass right on Tanev’s stick and he buried it for his 8th goal of the season — two more than he had all of last year in Pittsburgh.
5:42 left and a 2-0 lead. Sharks empty net. What could possibly go wro…
Nothing is ever easy because the Kraken embrace chaos. Driedger gave the Puget Sound a heart attack with about 53 seconds left when he turned the puck over (it looked like he was maybe trying to score a goal on the empty net but he claims he was just trying to clear it from the zone) and San Jose’s Tomáš Hertl knocked it down with a glove and had a wide open net to shoot at, but Driedger got back just in the nick of time to avert self-inflicted disaster.
But there would be no Phoenix-esque collapse this time. Calle Järnkrok ensured the victory with an empty-netter and the Kraken leave town with a hard-earned 3-1 victory.
The Kraken have had too many games where they outplayed their opponent but were ultimately let down by their goaltending and rotten puck luck, often falling behind early. Last night it was the opposite: the Kraken were outshot, out-expected-goaled, and the Sharks overall had a larger share of puck possession. You can see the flow of the game and the Sharks really turning it on in the third period.
Last night, Seattle’s goaltending kept the game scoreless for most of the game, caught some huge breaks (that Larsson save is maybe the highlight of the season), and Driedger’s excellent play allowed the Kraken to take a 2-0 lead late in the game, which ultimately was enough to secure the win.
It’s nice when the bounces go your way. There hasn’t been enough of that this season.
Next game: 12/15 at the Anaheim Ducks. Puck drop: 7:00 PT / 10:00 ET