Late second period, early third dooms Kraken in 6-3 loss to Flames

Calgary Flames v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 04: Nazem Kadri #91 of the Calgary Flames shoots against Philipp Grubauer #31 of the Seattle Kraken during the third period at Climate Pledge Arena on November 04, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

The Calgary Flames recovered from a 2-1 deficit and scored three unanswered goals, enough to hold off the Seattle Kraken, 4-3 before 17,151 fans at Climate Pledge Arena on Saturday. 

How it happened: 

·      The Kraken took a 1-0 lead on a five-minute major penalty in the first period, when Jared McCann took a cross check to the neck from Andrew Mangiapane (who was issued a five-minute match penalty and is subject to suspension), then a 2-1 advantage into the dressing room at the end of 20 minutes 

·      Noah Hanifin tied the game with a minute left in the second period on a power play goal, with a second left on a McCann high-sticking penalty 

·      Calgary scored twice in a span of 2:27 early in the third period to break the tie, on a Yegor Sharangovich deflection and Mikael Backlund’s rebound 

·      The Kraken staged one last comeback on a 6-on-5 goal by Jaden Schwartz, losing final control of the game on back-to-back empty netters from Backlund and Rasmus Andersson, in the final minute of the third period. 

The Kraken, splitting a two-game homestand, are still looking for their first win against the Flames at home, 0-5 at Climate Pledge Arena. Calgary snapped a six-game losing streak. Philipp Grubauer made 25 saves for the Kraken, while Dan Vladar earned the win with 17 stops.

Takeaways from the game: 

1.     Oliver Bjorkstrand is completely dialed in. We’ll start with one of the few bright spots. Bjorkstrand is delivering a solid start to the season and emerging as one of the most valuable forwards of the first 20-game span. He has nine points in his last eight games, is a weapon on the power play, and scored from nearly the same spot as his bar-down snipe on Thursday against Nashville. This time, it was a 40-foot dart over the blocker side of Dan Vladar. 

“He’s got an unbelievable shot, and a good release,” said defenseman Justin Schultz, assisting on Bjorkstrand’s power play goal with 10:04 left in the first period. 

Bjorkstrand’s start, as he once attributed to a more peaceful offseason (he found out he was being traded from Columbus during his honeymoon), is a clear demonstration the second-year Kraken forward is playing with confidence and with peace of mind, and the results are immediately following. There is no sluggish start like last year. 

2.     Turning point: Noah Hanifin’s goal. The Kraken had a 2-1 lead and a game still within their control but battling through penalty trouble and peril at a five-on-three situation. They extinguished the Flames attack on the two-man advantage, but a broken stick to Alex Wennberg played a part in the Flames retaining puck possession and another look for Noah Hanifin before the penalty expired. The Flames defenseman parked his first goal of the season to tie the game with a minute left, completely changing the game’s tone. Calgary was 0-6 when trailing after two periods. Instead, they exited the period with a tie game. 

“We work our way through the five on three and get to the end of the PK, and that changes the complexion of the entire game and changes the result of the second period,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. 

It visibly fueled the Flames, who won races to the interior, and got a deflection at the front of the net on Sharangovich’s goal just 1:33 into the third period. Then they completely deflated the balloon of energy inside Climate Pledge Arena on Backlund’s rebound, seconds after Philipp Grubauer came up with a highlight-reel save on an A.J. Greer breakaway. Calgary led the rest of the way, capitalizing on a critical period of the game - the late stages of a second period, and the first five minutes of the third period. 

3.     Too much left on the table, and not enough shots. The Kraken put up a season low 20 shots on net, well off their pace of 30 per game (which is hovering around league average). 

“We got outhustled in the first ten minutes of the third period, plain and simple,” said Hakstol.

With a second period lead well in command, they were outshot by the Flames, 13-3 and weren’t able to generate a realistic high-danger chance until Tye Kartye’s magnificent look on net, past the halfway point of the period. Vladar came up with a huge save, preventing the Kraken from seizing a two-goal lead and further control of the game.

“We didn’t shoot the puck enough in general tonight,” said Hakstol. “They did a good job punching out on our (defense). Not shooting the puck, that’s not just on the defensemen, that’s a shooting mentality that can create a little bit of chaos in the offensive zone with retrievals. We didn’t do enough of that.” 

The opportunities to expand the lead were few and far between, opening the door for Calgary’s chance to tie the game and change the game’s course. 

The Kraken will look to rebound on Tuesday, Nov. 7 against the Arizona Coyotes at Mullett Arena.

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