The Seattle Kraken fell to the Calgary Flames, 3-2 in their first game out of the holiday break on Wednesday before 17,151 fans at Climate Pledge Arena.
Tyler Toffoli, Nazem Kadri, and Jonathan Huberdeau (who had the game winner) all scored for Calgary, while the Kraken built a brief 2-1 lead on back-to-back goals by Ryan Donato and Jamie Oleksiak.
Philipp Grubauer made 41 saves, tying a Kraken single game best while Flames counterpart Dan Vladar earned the win with 28 saves.
The Kraken fell to a fourth place tie in the Pacific Division with the loss, set for a Friday battle against the team knotted with them, the Edmonton Oilers, 7pm PT at Climate Pledge Arena (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network).
1. This game was decided in the trenches. As Darryl Sutter hockey goes, a physical game with his teams will follow. The Kraken knew they were in for a game of punishment and were excellent in responding with a late first period goal by Ryan Donato, on a loose puck at the net. That was it for net front production on the Kraken side. Calgary bested them by two goals in that area: a loose puck for Tyler Toffoli (who foiled Vince Dunn and Adam Larsson) in the first period, a deflection set by a Nazem Kadri (unmarked) screen in the second period, and Jonathan Huberdeau’s second chance rebound in the third period. With an important two divisional points on the line, the thinnest of margins made an impact in Wednesday night’s results, and the Kraken suffered another high-magnitude loss to a Pacific Division opponent.
2. Philipp Grubauer deserved better. He tied Chris Driedger’s young franchise record with 41 stops. Three goals allowed, to pinpoint his effect, would be completely undercutting an array of high danger saves he made to keep the Kraken in the thick of Wednesday night. He had a big save early in the game to keep the Flames off the board, then Jonathan Huberdeau’s chance was negated by a sprawling glove side stop early in the third period. His performance, with several clutch saves, would have been greatly enhanced with more offensive production. Since December 1, his save percentage (even strength situations) is at .931, tied for 11th best in the NHL. Successful teams need goaltending to stay in games or win games – along with successful special teams. Which leads us to …
3. Special teams, and the effect it can have on games, reared its ugly head. The Kraken came up empty on the only power play opportunity they had. Though one chance is a credit to the Flames discipline (who took the third most minor penalties heading into the game), the Kraken are still empty for power play goals over the last six games. Penalty killing continued to struggle, surrendering Nazem Kadri’s game tying goal at 9:39 of the second period off a quick face-off and Flames set up in the offensive zone. Against the Edmonton Oilers, who are up next, pristine penalty killing (or just simply avoiding the penalty box) is potentially paramount for success – the Oilers came into today with the league’s top power play unit. The Kraken penalty kill: 31st in the league at 69.2 percent.
KRAKEN LINEUP vs CALGARY (12/28):