Kraken win in Tampa Bay with takeaways: "that was huge"

Seattle Kraken v Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 30: Luke Glendening #11 of the Tampa Bay Lightning looks on after losing a game against the Seattle Kraken at Amalie Arena on October 30, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)Photo: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

They led all four games of the trip. They were tied or winning in the third period, all four games of the trip. 

But it required a little more sweat to pull this one out, akin to all four games of the trip. 

The Seattle Kraken worked through a third period comeback by the Tampa Bay Lightning then used Jared McCann’s one-timer to sting the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 4-3 overtime victory before 19,092 at Amalie Arena on Monday. 

The win was the first for the Kraken in franchise history over the Lightning, the last remaining team they had yet to defeat in their two-plus seasons of existence. The formula was impressive, ending a daunting road trip at 2-1-1: a strong effort by Philipp Grubauer (34 saves), a pair of power play goals, and a first period onslaught that produced three goals on 20 shots. 

Brian Dumoulin, Yanni Gourde, and Kailer Yamamoto each scored to build a 3-1 lead after one period, holding off a second period goal by Tampa Bay’s Alex Barré-Boulet and a deflection by Brandon Hagel with 5:28 left in the third period. 

Jonas Johansson, coming off NHL Second Star of the Week honors and back to back shutouts, was pierced for four goals on 43 shots for the overtime loss. 

Three takeaways from the game: 

1.     Kailer Yamamoto was a revelation in a big win. Perhaps he’s now settling in as the “Sprong replacement guy” on a team that needs depth scoring to win. He played 11:36, scant compared to the top three lines, but was deployed on the power play where his unit kicked in the third goal of the night, on his wrister near the top of the crease. 

Ask Dave Hakstol about his game, which is rehabilitating from last season’s tough year in Edmonton, and you’ll hear about “energy” off the bat. He’s making plays, with what Hakstol termed as a “puck on a string,” a trademark of his game when he was a rockstar with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. He was effective along the boards, and fearless to roam into areas where physical contact threatens his 5-foot-8 frame. 

Ask his teammates. They’ll tell you who’s winning the duel. 

“So shifty - he’s hard on pucks,” said Jared McCann. “For his size he wins a lot of puck battles.” 

It’s not a power game. For Yamamoto, it’s a quickness game to be effective, and it was on full display as he took first star honors in Tampa Bay, reminding us of his potential in the most important areas of the ice. 

“Using my speed around the net,” said Yamamoto. 

“Just trying to use my speed and beat them to the puck.” 

2.     Protecting two-goal leads. Maybe this is a blemish that’s a little more glaring if the Kraken lost, similar to the NFL game and the Seattle Seahawks offense after the first quarter in spite of a big win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. 

Both teams found a way to win, each in spite of the speedbump. 

Still, Monday marked the fourth straight game the Kraken held a two goal lead, only to see it go down the drain. The concern could be legit, considering how the Kraken perhaps waited another two-plus periods to score a goal. Still, Dave Hakstol said he liked the way the Kraken played in the third period, in spite another errant deflection by Hagel which tied it up. 

“We could have pushed for a little bit more possession, looking to extend the lead,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “We didn’t get a whole lot. But I thought we were always in control in terms of the third period. 

“A throw in play – it bounces to the net – and all of a sudden it’s game on.” 

One element of the Kraken game is usage of speed, pace, energy, and continued motion. Jared McCann had an idea of how those core values and protecting a lead go hand in hand. 

“I think we need to play a little more offense when we’re up,” said McCann, who has five goals in ten games. “We need to keep our feet moving and stay on their (defense).”  

3.     Call the road trip a success, and maybe a launching point. After a disappointing ending to the homestand and a loss to the New York Rangers, the Kraken faced a four game trip against arguably a ten-fold improved Detroit Red Wings team, then Carolina, Florida, and Tampa Bay – all who combined for 140 wins last season and have been to the Conference Finals or higher in each of the last four seasons. 

At 2-1-1, the Kraken swiped five of eight maximum points in the standings off the table. Their overall record, at 3-5-2, still shows the start of this season at best is a work in progress. But they saved the best for last: they controlled the pace of Monday’s game, kept Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov off the board, and ultimately slayed a dragon in Tampa Bay. 

“That was huge, this trip I thought we played better than the previous game,” said Yanni Gourde. “It’s good to get rewarded tonight. It was an all-around team effort. Grubie played exceptional for us.” 

Avoiding a letdown will be critical for the next steps. Coming back home, the Kraken will face a Nashville team shut them out in the second game of the season but is still finding their legs at the .500 mark. Calgary is next, off to a dismal start at 2-6-1. A road game at Arizona will follow the two-game homestand. 

If the Kraken can find a way now to take off, they can look back at this road trip at a cathartic starting point. 

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