Perseverance pays off in heart-pounding shootout win

New York Islanders v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 16: Philipp Grubauer #31 and Vince Dunn #29 of the Seattle Kraken celebrate after beating the New York Islanders in a shootout at Climate Pledge Arena on November 16, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

That’s more like it. 

It took patience, but the Seattle Kraken persevered through a grueling eight-round shootout to knock off the New York Islanders, 4-3 and eradicate a three-game winless skid before a sellout crowd of 17,151 fans at Climate Pledge Arena. 

Production through the lineup made a big impact, but Kailer Yamamoto and Philipp Grubauer came through in the clutch. Yamamoto tied the game on the Kraken third power play goal of the night, just 3:02 after the Islanders swiped the lead on Noah Dobson’s power play point blast. 

Yamamoto scored the eventual shootout winner in the eighth round on Semyon Varlamov, while Philipp Grubauer, who stopped Bo Horvat on a breakaway in overtime, turned away Dobson to end the game. 

The Kraken, 3-0 in the annual Hockey Fights Cancer game, and playing in their first of five back-to-back sets this season, went 1-0-1 and were a mere minute away from running the table, losing the previous evening to Edmonton in overtime. 

Takeaways from the game: 

1.     The power play was cooking. The Kraken had a ripe opportunity. Facing an Islanders penalty kill that was leaking at every corner, they sunk their special teams with a 3-of-4 effort, putting stress on an Islanders team that went through an emotional wringer of a 4-3 overtime loss in Vancouver the night before. The Kraken had to do it the hard way – the Islanders won a staggering seven of ten face-offs on Kraken power plays – it was a battle just to get the puck back. But the Kraken, once established with their structure, were fantastic with puck movement, and tied the game on Jaden Schwartz’s poised puck touches which led to Yamamoto’s wide open look. 

The unit now has scored in seven of nine games, operating at a surging 10-of-31 clip. 

“We shot a lot of pucks,” said Vince Dunn. “We just kept it pretty simple for the most part in the zone.” 

2.     No carryover from the previous evening’s OT loss. The biggest concern perhaps for the Kraken after a loss in Edmonton, where victory was snatched by the jaws of defeat in overtime after a 3-1 lead went kaput in the final six minutes, was the struggle to mentally move past the loss in the physical evidence of tense, tight, and struggling play with execution. Endurance is one thing, but confidence goes a long way. 

Dave Hakstol said his message to the team before the game was to stick with a “very similar effort at home” as compared to the Edmonton game. There was little to no such evidence of any drop off, as the Kraken grabbed a 2-1 lead on a pair of power play goals, executing when the opportunity was ripe. Then, perseverance won over, all the way to the end in an eight round shootout that was heart-grabbing. So, what was a big key? 

“Staying calm,” said Dunn. “The second period wasn’t the prettiest for us, but the third period was a lot more competitive and direct.” 

“Tonight, we came in with a good attitude.” 

3.     Stick taps to Grubauer, clutch with the game on the line. It’s true that three got past him on 20 shots but offered little to no evidence of a goaltender that struggled in his last outing, for instance, against the Edmonton Oilers where his night ended after four goals that he yielded in the opening 20 minutes of play. 

Grubauer made a tough save late in the second period, without his stick, to keep the tie game together, then kept any hope of a win alive in overtime when he turned away Bo Horvat’s breakaway, who outraced Vince Dunn with a burst of speed and tried to deke Grubauer to the stick side. 

The shootout is always a toss-up, but Grubauer found the last big save the Kraken needed to secure a win in the name of perseverance. In a season where Grubauer and Accord are nearly 50/50 in playing time, and playing time also feels like a toss-up, he has secured the last four Kraken wins.   

Strong goaltending, when the Kraken needed it most, played a vital role. They will most likely need it again soon, in a stretch of six games where they face four games against teams with losing records. Two more valuable points were just swiped off the table.

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