The Seattle Kraken don’t make any sense.
For the most part, anyway. This team hasn’t picked up many things too quickly, but the one thing they really grabbed a hold of early and held on to is the je ne sais quoi of Seattle sports. This one had some bizarre moments, but honestly? We can make it make sense pretty easily.
The Kraken have struggled mightily this season with the dreaded slow start. But that’s one issue that was far from present in the first period of Saturday’s contest. Seattle was credited with the first 14 shots on goal in the first period, and didn’t allow a single puck to reach Philipp Grubauer until more than 11 minutes had passed. In just the first 90 seconds, we came this close to a goal of the year candidate from Jared McCann.
He took a bouncing puck, popped it up a bit higher, and backhanded it out of midair to get the shot on goal here. Oh, what could have been…
That one ended up right in Alex Nedeljkovic’s chest, but Ned made several (read: far too many) incredible saves to keep the Red Wings in it throughout the first period. None perhaps was better than this glove save on Morgan Geekie.
Adam Larsson also dropped the gloves in the first with Vladislav Namestnikov after a hit in the Kraken zone. The Wings were being outshot 14-2 at that point, so it seemed to be Namestnikov trying to spark his team more than anything else. And to his credit, it did work on some level. Detroit outshot Seattle 4-2 for the remainder of the period, but the scoreboard stayed empty.
Yanni Gourde took a puck to the face to start the second, which turned out to be a metaphor for the entire period. Seattle spent nearly five minutes on the power play throughout the middle of this one, including a 59 second 5-on-3, but Nedeljkovic refused to let one by. Aside from the 5-on-3 though, Seattle really struggled to get much of anything going on the power play. Per Natural Stat Trick, the Kraken managed just a single shot on goal in over four minutes of 5-on-4 power play time in the second period. That’s a big yikes from me dawg. And to add insult to injury, immediately after killing the extended 5-on-3 and ensuing 5-on-4 penalties, the Red Wings opened the scoring after what in hindsight is one of the funniest giveaways this season.
With exactly zero forecheckers bearing down on them, Carson Soucy and Ryan Donato lose track of who is supposed to have the puck, and Dylan Larkin came flying into the zone, fresh out of the penalty box, and set up Joe Veleno for his sixth goal of the year.
Four minutes later, the Wings added to their lead when they got their first power play of the game. The Kraken failed to score on each of their first four attempts, but it took Detroit just 20 seconds to capitalize on their very first power play. This was when it really started to feel like that kind of Kraken game. Plenty of chances for Seattle, generally solid defense, but a boneheaded turnover here along with special teams failures aplenty and suddenly it’s a two goal deficit despite all-around solid 5-on-5 play.
This is when the hockey gods finally rewarded the Kraken for all their hard work in the first two periods. What really kicked it off though was Philipp Grubauer. Gru made a huge save on a 3-on-2 rush chance for Detroit to keep the deficit at two, aka the most dangerous lead in hockey.
Nedeljkovic had looked like a brick wall through 40 minutes, but the Kraken peppered him enough to finally wear him down in the third. Seven minutes in, the ever-present offensive threat that is Adam Larsson(?) entered the zone fresh off the bench and drove to the net hard. His shot wasn’t anything spectacular, but it found a hole in Nedeljkovic’s side and just squeaked through to get the Kraken on the board. There was life.
That was less than two minutes after the Grubauer save. We’ve got ourselves a good old fashioned turning point in this hockey game!
Seattle got somewhat hemmed into their own defensive zone for a bit later on. They maintained possession of the puck, but the Wings’ forecheck came in hard and refused to let Seattle exit with possession. Eventually it seemed as though Vince Dunn simply had enough of the passing behind his own net, and he fired one up off the boards to clear the zone. But lo and behold, Jaden Schwartz was at the far blue line waiting for the puck, and he turned on the afterburners to get by Troy Stetcher for a partial breakaway. One quick backhand move later and this game was all tied up.
The last time these teams met, it took a shootout to decide the winner. This one seemed primed to reach the same ending, but puck-luck had a different idea. Seattle has had a litany of goals allowed that came off of skates — both opponent skates and their own defenders’ skates. But tonight, that luck went the other way, and the beneficiary was Yanni Gourde.
Some say you make your own luck, and this game seemed to agree with that sentiment. Seattle outshot and outchanced Detroit for 40 minutes and faced a 2-0 deficit. Eventually all that hard work should pay off, and pay off it did. Haydn Fleury drove hard to the net, and while he couldn’t quite get a piece of this “shot” from Gourde, one has to give credit for the effort on the rush by the defenseman. He took that puck from his own zone all the way through the neutral zone and set that play up. His teammates took notice of his hard work too, as he was tonight’s recipient of the coveted Davy Jones hat.
Gourde would add his second of the night with an empty netter in the final minute to seal a 4-2 victory for Seattle. It was a gutsy game for Gourde, who got a real nice shiner from that puck to the face at the beginning of the second period. His dedication and perseverance even have a few pondering a very big question about the Kraken’s future:
The Kraken are back in action this Tuesday when they take on the Coyotes in Arizona for the start of a week-long road trip. That’s also the first game after Monday’s trade deadline, so stay tuned, because the Kraken aren’t likely done making moves this weekend.