Losses like these are becoming rarer by the day, but it still leaves a stinging effect.
The Seattle Kraken gave up three unanswered goals to the Calgary Flames and were unable to recover, taking a 5-2 defeat on Friday before 17,151 fans at Climate Pledge Arena.
It was just the third loss in regulation all month for the Kraken, now 10-3-2 since New Year’s Day. But in a tight Pacific Division race, they fell one point back of the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division, who won before the puck dropped in Seattle.
“We weren’t very good tonight, that’s all,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol.
“Middle portion of the game, we had no energy. Top to bottom, that’s all of us.”
COMPLETE RADIO GAME HIGHLIGHTS
The Flames won the three-game season series, 2-1 and both meetings in Seattle. In the absence of Matty Beniers, the Kraken got a first period goal from John Hayden (his first with the team) at 5:20 before the Flames stormed back to take a 3-1 lead by the intermission on goals from Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, and Nikita Zadorov.
It could have been worse, with the Flames hemming the Kraken in their own zone for the first three minutes. The Kraken escaped, and even rebounded from a disallowed power play goal from Alex Wennberg on a goaltender interference review in the third period when Eeli Tolvanen cut the lead to 3-2 with 9:24 left.
Calgary delivered a significant blow though just 1:04 later on Noah Hanifin’s goal off the rush to restore their two-goal lead, and Blake Coleman sealed the game with an empty netter.
Dan Vladar stopped 28 shots for the win in net, over Martin Jones (33 saves).
The Kraken will wrap up their five-game homestand and the final game before a league-mandated bye week and All-Star break, Saturday night at 7pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
1. Response goals wounded the Kraken. Remember when these were an issue that clogged a tough expansion season on the ice? They cleaned those sore spots up for much of the season, but on Friday, the Kraken earned a pair of potential game-shaping goals that were wiped away when the Flames scored quickly. John Hayden’s first goal with the team put them up 1-0 which only lasted 1:56 before Elias Lindholm snuck behind the defense, and the game’s tone became brand new. Tolvanen ignited Climate Pledge Arena with his seventh goal (!!) in 14 games, delivering renewed energy and a rally that seemed to be getting in motion. That was until Noah Hanifin scored just 1:04 later off the rush, and the Kraken were silenced for the rest of the night.
2. The break could be coming at the right time. No Jaden Schwartz, no Justin Schultz, no Matty Beniers, and for a few minutes, it seemed like no Yanni Gourde (who absorbed an absolute missile of a one-timer off his leg from Michael Stone), leaving him to limp down the hallway and a collective lump in the throat of Kraken fans, in danger of losing two substantial centers in the lineup. Gourde returned to play, and even out on the penalty kill for his first shift. It was a testimony of grit, and perhaps an indication as the injury scares mount in a ruthless schedule this month, the end of the line for “60 more miles” on Saturday is likely going to feel extremely refreshing. Nothing after Saturday night until Feb. 7, to open a five-game road trip out east.
3. Eeli Tolvanen is playing at a rate that’s borderline unconscious. Seventh goal in 14 games since joining the Kraken – that’s basically the equivalent of a 41-goal season. Tolvanen’s resurrected his offensive game to nearly a 10-goal season, and we’ve still got a little less than three months to play in the regular season. This outcome from a waiver claim is basically the pipe dream of 32 employed professionals in the National Hockey League called “general managers.” Ron Francis was smart to jump on this one, after Tolvanen shockingly went through several teams unclaimed after Nashville let him go. He's ignited a new dynamic on Gourde’s line with Oliver Bjorkstrand. When he’s on the ice at five-on-five, the Kraken have a +39 shot differential. What a steal.
KRAKEN LINEUP VS. CALGARY, 1/27: