The Kraken only have two games scheduled for this week, yet it’s still turning out to be one of the more eventful weeks of the season for this hockey team. They took on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday evening, but the game itself was overshadowed by a couple big storylines.
First came the news that Mark Giordano, the captain, would be a healthy scratch. On one hand it makes sense, as it’s expected that his days in a Kraken sweater are numbered and the team likely doesn’t want him getting injured right before a big move. Heck, they might even have the bones of a deal already worked out and might announce it within a day or so. But news of him sitting out this game was a pretty big bummer for Kraken fans, as Wednesday was also the night the team celebrated Gio reaching 1,000 career NHL games. The team and the fans at Climate Pledge Arena still found a way to give him the celebration he deserved though.
The second piece of big news to come out ahead of game time was that forward Calle Järnkrok had been traded to the Calgary Flames for a handful of draft picks. This one came late in the day and threw head coach Dave Hakstol quite a curveball, as Seattle was now down to just 11 forwards. Haydn Fleury filled in as the fourth line winger, and honestly…he didn’t do too bad! Let’s get into it.
The Kraken got off to a great start in the first when Ondrej Palat took a tripping penalty less than a minute into the game. Seattle didn’t quite capitalize, but they did manage to draw another penalty before the first expired, sending them to a brief 5-on-3 advantage. Just 5 seconds after the first penalty expired, Yanni Gourde buried a one-timer on a pass from Jordan Eberle to give Seattle the 1-0 lead.
That’s Gourde’s third power play goal of the season, all coming on plays similar to this. He’s shaping up to be quite the dangerous shooter from the right circle with the man advantage for Seattle.
The lead didn’t last too long, however, because Tampa has this dude named Nikita Kucherov that happens to be pretty good at scoring. He forced a turnover at his own blue line and turned it into a 2-on-1 with Steven Stamkos against Adam Larsson, and neither Larsson nor Philipp Grubauer really stood a chance at stopping that duo.
Now look, the Gourde goal was a beauty, but I don’t think many would argue that the highlight of the first period was Will Borgen hurling Corey Perry to the ice in response to Perry’s late whacks at a puck that was firmly nestled in Grubauer’s pads. He was assessed a roughing penalty which absolutely nobody in the stadium nor watching at home faults him for.
The Kraken started the middle frame on the power play thanks to a Kucherov cross-checking penalty near the end of the first. Unfortunately they just couldn’t generate much of anything on it, finishing with only one shot attempt over the 97 seconds of power play time here.
Tampa Bay, on the other hand, generated plenty of chances of their own when they got a power play a few minutes later. Yanni Gourde went off for slashing, and with one of Seattle’s best penalty killers in the box, the Lightning went to work. Stamkos set up Viktor Hedman with a nice little bank pass and Hedman sent a 94mph clapper through Grubauer to give the Lightning their first lead of the game. (Sidenote: the shot speed display is the best thing about the TNT broadcast)
The Kraken nearly tied it up before the end of the period when Kole Lind came inches away from scoring his first career NHL goal. Riley Sheahan set him up with a great pass across the slot, but Lind couldn’t quite get it through Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Now that would’ve been a first goal we could all remember. Instead, the score remained 2-1, and it would stay that way until the third.
Seattle gave up one of the dumbest looking goals of the year to kick things off in the third. It started with a great play by Brayden Point, who beat Carson Soucy in a footrace to the puck and took it to the net before Grubauer poked it away. Several agonizing seconds later, two Kraken skaters were laying on the ice along with Grubauer, and the puck was in the net.
Once you get past all the lineup changes in this one, you might’ve thought the Kraken were finally playing a normal game. Not so fast my friend. The thing that really bums me out about this goal is that Grubauer gave us a phenomenal poke check that will quickly fade from everyone’s mind because of the chaos that came in the immediate aftermath. That was not an easy stop against Point, and he deserves credit for that one.
Seattle got another power play a little while later (drawn by forward Haydn Fleury) but again couldn’t generate much of anything. And once again, Tampa Bay got a power play of their own a short while later, and Hedman sent a 93 mph bomb past Grubauer to give the Lightning what would eventually become a 4-1 victory.
The Kraken get another home game this Saturday when the Detroit Red Wings come to town. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for more traded deadline deals, because Ron Francis definitely is not done for the week.