For much of Sunday, ground was held in the eye of the storm.
Then, on the wave of an emotional penalty kill, a potential two points were swept away.
Martin Necas’ ninth goal of the season snapped a tie game with 9:38 left in regulation, preserving a 3-2 win for the Carolina Hurricanes over the Seattle Kraken before 18,156 fans at PNC Arena.
Despite the ups and downs of an expansion season presenting consistent challenges, the Kraken came close to adding the Hurricanes – a consensus Stanley Cup favorite – to a list of substantial upsets and sweeps including the Florida Panthers, a team the Kraken have beaten twice this year.
But Necas’ goal, on the back end of a Hurricanes third period penalty kill, was supplemented by a pair of Carolina power play goals which left the Kraken surrendering four power play tallies in the last two games.
Head coach Dave Hakstol suggested a clash emerged between special teams results and procedure.
“It’s not all in the penalty killing,” said Hakstol. “In our first kill, we had a good kill going. When you miss a clear, especially end of a kill that’s where you start to find tired legs – that’s when things can go against you.”
Carolina improved to 7-1-2 in the last ten games, two points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the top record in the NHL with 85 points. The Kraken fell to 17-36-5 (39 points).
Alex Wennberg and Calle Jarnkrok each scored for the Kraken, who fell to 0-2 on the five game trip.
“Five on five we did a pretty good job, they had us a little bit in second period but in first period we were creating some decent chances,” said goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who turned in 30 saves. “Five on five it’s been good today. But we have to win the special teams, they make such a huge difference.”
Wennberg’s game opening power play goal, 3:12 into the second period, was answered by a power play tap in from Nino Niederreiter at the 7:10 mark to tie the game. The Kraken had an answer though: Adam Larson threaded a 100-foot, tape-to-tape pass to Calle Jarnkrok, uncorking his 12th goal of the season past Antti Raanta just 1:06 later for a 2-1 lead.
However, Wennberg’s hooking penalty with 2:42 left in the period was costly: Carolina promptly won an offensive zone face-off and Teuvo Teravainen buried his 16th goal of the season, between the circles, just four seconds into their second power play.
Raanta earned the win in net with 28 stops.
The Kraken will head to Canada in search of their first win of the trip on Tuesday, 5pm PT (950 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) against the host Toronto Maple Leafs.