Facing a steep uphill battle against a Pacific Division opponent loaded with talent, loaded with personal accolades, and loaded with lofty expectations, the threshold for the Seattle Kraken to hang around held firm until the final eight minutes of regulation, before the Edmonton Oilers pulled away, 5-2 in the only meeting of the season between the two teams at Rogers Place to open the November portion of the schedule.
Just two more meetings remain, both in Seattle – Dec. 3 and Dec. 18.
As the Kraken have put together pieces in methodical fashion in a span of over a month to fuse over 20 individuals into one collective unit, two hiccups got in the way of plans to stun the Oilers: early goals, and special teams.
With Jaden Schwartz’s first period goal providing a resounding counter-punch to Leon Draisaitl’s first of two goals, and Carson Soucy’s second period marker getting the Kraken back in the game, they surrendered goals in the first three minutes or less in each period, and had a power play drought continue at 1-of-23 over the last eight games.
A day off on Tuesday to recalibrate is expected to be followed by the next cycle of on-ice reps in a Wednesday practice, before a brief stop at home on Thursday against Buffalo.
-Jaden Schwartz must have felt like a 10,000 pound weight was lifted off his back: his first goal with the Kraken, snapping a drought of nine games to begin the season, tied the game moments after Leon Draisaitl’s “excuse me” deflection of Tyson Barrie’s point shot put Edmonton in an early lead, 2:12 into the game.
-Soucy returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games (Haydn Fleury sat in place), and logged 16:49 of ice time along with a Kraken-high tying four hits.
-Adam Larsson, returning to his former home ice for the first time since being picked up by the Kraken as a free agent signee shortly before the expansion draft, led the Kraken with 21:32 of ice time and logged four hits and five blocked shots. His one deflection of a Connor McDavid, fifth gear shot off the rush,drew a brief and amusing “hello” moment between two former teammates. He’s spent a lot of time defending him in past practices.
-Strange times we live in: the Oilers are red-hot. But they are not selling out their home games. Nearly 3,000 seats were empty (15,860 in attendance). Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sunhas the context pretty well covered right here.
-Final in the hits count: Kraken had the upper hand over the Oilers, 29-23. Larsson, Soucy, and Jeremy Lauzon led the Kraken each with four hits.
-No leading scorer Jared McCann again (COVID-19 protocol), whose shot was a sorely missed element on the Kraken power play. Max McCormick suited up for his second straight game, getting in three hits and two shots on net in 8:24 of ice time.
FROM THE PODIUM:
Dave Hakstol on the scoring chances from tonight’s game:
“We had some good chances tonight. We had good chances off the rush, off offensive zone opportunities, couple off the posts and through the crease but now right now, that’s the way it’s gone for us last couple nights. We’ve got to push and find ways to change that.”
Hakstol on the message for the team moving ahead:
“Just stick together as a group – understand where we’re at and what we need to do. That comes through leadership. We pushed real hard last two nights. I look at tonight’s game and lot of times, back to back we started a little bit slow. It took seven to eight minutes to get our legs going. I loved the end of the first period. The second period push was excellent. We put ourselves right into the hockey game entering the third period. We had a great penalty kill to finish off, and have had great scoring chances. The backbreaker was the fourth goal against and that’s one we can prevent.”
Hakstol on the play of Joey Daccord:
“He battled hard. Tough night – you look at first three goals, there were two tips there. As you get into the third period as a young guy, a thing you’d ask him, you’ve got to find a save on one of those last goals. They’re not bad goals. Tough plays – the fourth one comes through two to three of our guys, net front. Can you get a stick on it, help out and prevent? The fifth one – short breakaways – can you find a save there? Those are game changing plays that were available to him tonight.”
Jaden Schwartz on the outcome of tonight’s game:
“Yeah it’s frustrating. The last game was right there for us and so was today. Opportunistic to start – lot of good chances, lot of good looks, we’ve just got to find ways to put them in back of net – and be hungrier around net. The power play has got to start executing better for us – getting us on board, and more momentum. We keep losing special team battlers, that doesn’t help. There’s positives, but we’ve got to do it full games, and find ways to win.”
Schwartz on Soucy’s goal to get back down by one goal at the end of the second period:
“We were feeling good. Down by one on road against good team, we got in late last night, so that was a massive save. Big goal by (Soucy) – I felt good getting out into the third. Just couldn’t execute.”
Jamie Oleksiak on the team’s performance tonight:
“I think we played hard – it wasn’t for a lack of effort tonight – a couple of chances go in and we’re talking about a whole different game. That’s been theme last few games. Getting chances just seem to not go in. You’ve got to stick with it and those will come.”
Oleksiak if playing from behind early is becoming bothersome:
“Not really, I think we’ve got a good group of guys in the locker room, no matter what situation in the game. No matter the score, you know next group is coming out to play hard. We do a good job keeping mindset next shift, we don’t overthink things, and it’s a process. We’re finding our ways as a team. No matter what score is, you got to make sure we show up and are getting better each game.”