The Seattle Kraken, seemingly close to the finish line with a one-goal lead, fell prey to a late penalty and extra attacker goal to force overtime.
Seem familiar? It happened Sunday night, and it happened again Thursday night. This time, they would not be stopped.
Justin Schultz completed the first two-goal game of his NHL career at 3:39, a rebound to the glove side of Igor Shesterkin as the Seattle Kraken (9-5-3, 21 points) resiliently fought off the New York Rangers for a 3-2 overtime win at Climate Pledge Arena before a sellout crowd.
Schultz broke a 1-1 tie in the third period and helped the Kraken answer Vincent Trocheck’s game-tying goal with just 1:54 left in regulation, after Carson Soucy was whistled for hooking over a minute prior. Soucy was in the box for a punch to the head of Pierre-Luc Dubois on Sunday as the Jets tied the game, who then won it in the first minute of overtime on a goal by Mark Scheifele.
This time, buoyed by two days of practice which included intense focus on three-on-three drills, they found their first overtime win of the season.
“(Jordan Eberle) did a great job driving them wide, and kind of got lost a little bit,” said Schultz. “I hoped it would come to me – and found a way to get it in there.”
The win delivered the first overtime walk off moment in Kraken home game history, with the Kraken allowing only an open look to a Mika Zibanejad slap shot from the right circle as the most serious threat on Martin Jones.
“I thought our guys played with really good poise throughout the overtime,” head coach Dave Hakstol said.
“They didn’t get anything clean. We stayed with it. It’s just poise, and possession. When we didn’t have the puck, the guys were organized, pushed things to the outside and checked well.”
This one was increasingly difficult because reigning Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin, off to a slow start, was in 2021-22 form and stopped a flood of Kraken chances in the second period which included 16 saves.
Jones, who made 28 saves and is rounding into vintage Jones form, is now sixth in the league with a 2.34 goals-against-average.
“Both goaltenders were good,” Hakstol said. “In the second period we had an outstanding twenty minutes. We generated a lot of opportunities.”
“That’s what (Shesterkin) does. He’s a good goaltender. He’s that for a reason, but you know what, our guy was pretty damn good tonight as well, really timely.”
Jared McCann and Mika Zibanejad traded first period goals, as the Rangers fell in their first game of a four-game trip and surrendered to the first win in Kraken history, covering the head-to-head matchup.
“(Shesterkin) kept us in the game and then we found a way to get a point in the end,” said Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant. “But it’s not good enough, we’re better than that.”
1. Practice makes perfect: If there’s any reason to look at the “what ifs” for points left on the table, look no further than the recent string of sudden death overtime results. It’s been a tough nut to crack: though early in the season at 0-3 before Thursday, the Kraken went 1-5 last year. Head coach Dave Hakstol acknowledged it was an issue. Monday, the Kraken took the day off for a mental reset after Sunday’s meltdown.
Tuesday and Wednesday sessions planted the seeds of an extremely productive turnaround: three-on-three drills to simulate overtime, encouraging better shot selection and shorter shifts. The proof on Thursday was in the pudding, and the Kraken benefited from their work on ice.
2. First thing’s first: Getting the jump on the Rangers early, flying to the west coast to begin a four-game road trip, was a paramount task. Jared McCann, seconds after being robbed by a textbook high-danger save by Shesterkin, got a piece of Will Borgen’s point shot to give the Kraken a lead just 2:45 into the game. It jolted the building with energy, made the Rangers chase the Kraken early, and set up a night where nothing got by Martin Jones unless it came from two goals by Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck inside of a high-octane Rangers power play. A pattern played out for success against the Rangers: score first. New York is 7-0-1 this season when they go up 1-0, and now 1-6-3 when the other team gets on the board first.
3. Statement made: Yanni Gourde, who made his 400th NHL game a memorable one, said Thursday morning that the upcoming game would be a big measuring stick. The Kraken shook off two third period penalties (likely, discipline will be a discussed item for improvement), deployed Martin Jones to outduel the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, and simply found a way to win against a team fresh off a season finishing two wins shy of reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Through 20 percent of the season, the Kraken are a playoff team. The consensus bar in year two is “be in the playoff hunt.” We are close to identifying contenders from pretenders, a picture that becomes more clear around the impending holidays. For Thursday night’s bar, the Kraken showed up, and measured up.
KRAKEN LINEUP, 11/17:
Up next, a four-point swing game in the Pacific Division: the Kraken will host the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday at 7pm (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network). The Kings, coming off a 3-1 win against Edmonton, are two points ahead of the Kraken for second place.