Tyler Johnson and Jason Dickinson scored 13 seconds apart to turn a third period Seattle Kraken lead, seven minutes away from victory, into a 5-4 defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday before 14,892 fans at United Center in the first of three meetings.
“Disappointing loss,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We did a lot of little things that will end up getting you beat on the road.”
“It starts with the puck battles, and it goes from there. There was a lot of time and space out there for the other guys.”
With Yanni Gourde missing the game to attend to a personal matter back home, and Philipp Grubauer unavailable to suit up with a lower body injury suffered Friday in Colorado, the Kraken built a 2-0 lead on goals by Jared McCann and Andre Burakovsky. They sprinted out of the gates just 7:31 into the game to set a commanding tone with the two-goal cushion.
But Chicago rallied back with three goals in a span of 3:28, two on the power play and one shorthanded, surrounding late in the first period and early in the second period. Matty Beniers answered back with his second goal of the season just 51 seconds into the second period, capping an exchange of goals in 19 seconds with Chicago’s Max Domi.
In a game that combined for nine goals, the Kraken held the lead for a total of 34:46 and only trailed only for grand total of 7:09.
Yet, the two goals surrendered to Chicago in 13 seconds delivered a hard lesson.
“It’s kind of an art, closing out a game,” said Beniers, who has 14 points in his first 17 career NHL games. “All it takes is a couple of mistakes, a couple of shifts and they’re right back in it. I thought we played a good game overall, but you take a couple of shifts off and boom, they’re up.”
The Kraken settled for a 1-1 split on the road, taking their first road loss in regulation. They will open a three-game homestand on Tuesday, 7pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) against the Buffalo Sabres at Climate Pledge Arena.
1. The battle at the face-off circle: It was a struggle for the Kraken again on Sunday, who have sunk to 32nd in the NHL at 40 percent following the loss at Chicago. The Blackhawks, owning the second-best percentage in the league at 58.2 percent, won 69 percent of their face-offs, including clips of 12-for-17 by Jonathan Toews and 11-of-15 for Max Domi. The Kraken will seek better numbers against Buffalo on Tuesday, a team less daunting than the Blackhawks at 48.5 percent (21st), fueling support with puck possession from the start of each shift.
2. Special teams: They played a major role in the course of this game – and in a spot where the Kraken were in position to bring the death knell to the Blackhawks, up 2-0 on a late first period power play after building a promising lead on goals by Jared McCann and Andre Burakovsky. Instead, a defensive zone blueline turnover led to a two-on-one for Colin Blackwell and Jujhar Khaira, and Khaira’s tap-in shorthanded goal got the Blackhawks back into the game. Chicago also converted at 2-of-3 on the power play.
3. Response shifts: Ultimately, the next shift following a goal continues to be a work in progress – promising signs in the second period and struggles in the third (where the Kraken paid the price in the final score). Matty Beniers’ game-tying, rebound goal to answer Max Domi’s 3-2 lead came just 19 seconds apart, helping stabilize a second period that began off the hinges and turned into a 4-3 lead. With the game in command and the Kraken committing to preserve a one-goal cushion, a defensive breakdown left Tyler Johnson unmarked in the slot, who tied the game with 7:03 left in regulation. Chicago then marched right back into the Kraken zone on the ensuing shift, and the Kraken lost a puck battle behind the net to set up Jason Dickinson’s wrister from the right circle.
Alex Stalock’s 30 saves were enough for the win in net for Chicago, who rallied from behind in the third period to win for the second straight game. Martin Jones took the loss with 22 saves.
KRAKEN LINEUP VS CHICAGO: