The Seattle Kraken look like a much better team lately. The nine-game losing streak is well behind them, and the team looks competitive, especially at even strength. Unfortunately there’s still several minutes per game that’s spent not at even strength, and that’s been the bane of the Kraken for much of the year.
Today was no different, as Seattle’s special teams failed them despite a pretty solid game at 5-on-5. Here’s how it went down.
The Kraken looked like the better team at 5-on-5 during the first 20 minutes — an impressive feat for an early game on the East coast against a really good New York Rangers team. Seattle outshot the Rangers 13-5 at even strength and 14-6 overall, but couldn’t find a way to beat goaltender Igor Shesterkin. It started to feel as though we could just copy and paste the recap from the last time these teams met, when Shesterkin stole a win for the Rangers. Then, after an Alex Wennberg tripping penalty, the Rangers found their stride and opened the scoring with a really impressive power play goal.
Seattle failed to clear their own zone in the 49 seconds it took the Rangers to score on this power play. Seattle’s penalty kill has been pretty lackluster of late. They have seemed more aggressive at times but still struggle to get the puck out of the zone and spend too much time blocking shots rather than preventing shots altogether. Per Evolving Hockey, the Kraken penalty kill has allowed the 4th-most expected goals against per 60 minutes in the entire NHL.
Later in the period, Karson Kuhlman threw a big hit on Libor Hajek, but came away with the worst of it after an awkward slide into the boards. He’d miss the rest of the contest, and we await an update on the severity of the injury.
The Kraken did not dominate possession in the second like they did for much of the first, especially early on. New York came out strong early on, and after a solid 2 minutes or so holding the puck in the Seattle zone Alexis Lafrenière extended the Ranger lead to 2-0.
After that early period struggle, the Kraken came back strong and started putting more pressure on Shesterkin once again. Just 3 minutes after going down by two goals, Seattle’s leading goal scorer Jared McCann got the team on the board after a pretty sequence from the top line.
Seattle pressed hard for the equalizer after this, but didn’t find it before intermission. The second period ended with Seattle trailing 2-1, despite a commanding 25-12 lead in shots on net.
Seattle started the third off on the wrong foot. Mason Appleton took a tripping penalty just 36 seconds in, giving the Rangers their second power play of the day. An early clear helped this one, but there was still a lot of time spent in the Seattle zone. Mika Zibanejad was able to unload multiple one-timers from the left circle but fortunately none found the net, and the penalty was killed.
Seattle came back strong after that, drawing a power play of their own just 4 minutes later, but couldn’t get much traffic in front and failed to score for the seventh consecutive time with the man advantage, dating back to the Predators game.
Later in the period, Artemi Panarin — the last guy you’d want to allow a breakaway too — got around the defense and had a breakaway opportunity. Vince Dunn went hard on the backcheck and made what was, in this author’s eyes, a phenomenal stick lift to break up the chance. He went to the box for hooking. The referees seemed to think that might’ve been a mistake, though, and immediately called a holding penalty on the Rangers on the ensuing power play, giving us nearly 2 full minutes of 4-on-4 hockey. K’Andre Miller had the best chance here, but Philipp Grubauer came up with a big save when the Kraken needed it most.
Seattle got one final chance to get back into this one when Zibanejad tripped McCann in the Rangers zone with about 3 minutes left. Seattle pulled Grubauer halfway through the power play to get a 6-on-4 advantage, and wouldn’t you know it, pulling the goalie worked! Yanni Gourde ripped a one-timer from low in the right circle and the Kraken tied the game with just 68 seconds left in the period!
It lasted all of 35 seconds.
The Kraken’s issues with allowing a goal immediately after scoring one continue unabated. I’m not even sure what else to say at this point. The worst part is it’s not even just early second period goals or anything, it’s huge, late-in-game goals that become immediately useless. They tied it against Arizona earlier this year with the goalie pulled too and had the exact same thing happen. It’s painful.
Seattle played well and stayed in this one the entire time, but it leaves a sour taste in your mouth anyway with the way it ended. Seattle falls to 14-25-4, with one more game on Monday night before the All-Star break.