With a game as tight as Thursday night, one play could change the trajectory of a game: a hit, a save, an errant bounce.
Karson Kuhlman made sure the latter wasn’t affecting the Seattle Kraken plans.
“Play of the game might have been Karson Kuhlman with his stick,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol.
Breaking up a potential wide open, third period bid by Seth Jones that went off the post, moments after Philipp Grubauer came up with a huge save on Patrick Kane, Kuhlman’s play was an assortment of big moments to help the Kraken finish the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2-0 victory on Thursday at United Center.
The Kraken won the season series, 2-1 over Chicago while Grubauer earned the 20th shutout of his NHL career, making 29 saves.
“(Grubauer) was good tonight,” said Hakstol. “Our penalty kill was good tonight, that’s the difference in the hockey game.”
“He looked real confident tonight.”
Grubauer’s busiest workload came in a 15-save, second period effort, which included incredible kills of a Blackhawks two-man advantage and four-minute power play.
“The (penalty kill) – hell of a job today,” said Grubauer.
Grubauer played in every minute of the three-game series against Chicago and shook off back-to-back losses after Jordan Eberle broke open a 1-0 lead late in the third period with a snipe upstairs on Kevin Lankinen for goals in back-to-back games with 1:39 remaining.
“You’ve got to be comfortable in those tight games,” said Grubauer. “You’re not going to score six goals every time. So, protect the lead and do the right things offensively and defensively. Really good team effort today.”
Alex Wennberg justified a 17-3 advantage in shots during a scoreless first period when he scored on an exquisite deke to the stick side on Lankinen just 47 seconds into the second period.
“I got a little speed, so I faked the shot,” said Wennberg. “I really found a way to beat him around. The play goes fast so you trust your instincts and I was rewarded.”
The Kraken, looking for their third win in four games when they come back home to take on the Calgary Flames at 4pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network), will play in a home-and-home series with the Flames, chasing the division title. Winnipeg is next after the series, eight points out of a playoff spot with 11 games to go.
“We’ve got to make sure we bring the same effort we brought tonight again,” said Grubauer. “We’re going to play more skilled and teams desperate to get into the playoffs. So, we have to bring the same effort over and over again.”