Dougie Hamilton scored a pair of power play goals for the New Jersey Devils, who recovered from a second period deficit to defeat the Seattle Kraken, 3-1 on Thursday at Prudential Center.
The loss was the third in the last four games for the Kraken, and their second to begin the road trip where offense has been a bit hard to come by, in the wake of losing Andre Burakovsky to a lower body injury and to the injured reserve list. The Kraken have scored just one goal in six periods out of the bye week, and fell short of supporting Philipp Grubauer’s impressive night, who took the loss on 24 saves.
“We got off to a good start, but it was a tight game all the way through,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “As we got to the third period, it was going to be a little tighter checking, and it was.”
“End of the day, they found two on their power play.”
Mackenzie Blackwood, who helped the Devils steal the season finale, earned first star efforts with a 33 save night.
“We had good looks, I thought both goaltenders were good,” said Hakstol.
“We’ve got to keep generating opportunities and finish them.”
Adam Larsson potted the only Kraken goal of the game, breaking a 15-game goal drought with a blast through traffic with 5:55 remaining in the second period. It only took 24 seconds for the Devils to respond, tying the game on Dougie Hamilton’s 14th goal from a similar method, coming on a power play after a Will Borgen cross-checking penalty.
A holding penalty to Yanni Gourde, borderline as far as the incriminating level, opened the door to Hamilton’s eventual game winner. Shortly after Jesper Bratt hit the post, the Devils funnelled the puck to the point, where Hamilton wired a shot past a screened Grubauer for a 2-1 edge at the ten minute mark.
John Marino sealed the game with an empty netter with 1:11 left.
In the struggles that have outlined the last two Kraken games, they’ll need to move on quickly. The New York Rangers, fresh off acquiring Vladimir Tarasenko in a Thursday trade with the St. Louis Blues, are up next on Friday at Madison Square Garden, starting at 4pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network).
1. An offense that has feasted all season is all of a sudden, famished. It’s not fair to pin this on the loss of Andre Burakovsky. The Kraken are still loaded with five additional players who are on pace to score 20 goals this season. It’s realistic to think of Jared McCann hitting 40. But on a night where the Kraken owned the Devils in shot attempts (55-43), high danger attempts (9-5), and shot quality (54%) at five-on-five play, the reality the Kraken faced was a game that had plenty of rhythm, but short of execution. Part of that was Mackenzie Blackwood’s doing, who was lights out. Part of it was a hit post by Oliver Bjorkstrand. But the results were far too few, and it now marks two straight games leaving the Kraken searching for answers that have been crystal clear up until mid-January.
2. Tough night for the penalty kill. The unit, which has struggled much of this season, appeared to be turning a corner with eight straight games holding a clean sheet. Tonight, the room they gave Hamilton made the difference, and in a tough time to do it: under a minute after seizing an important 1-0 lead, and in a third period with a tie game where every decision is magnified. Going back to point #1, when the offense is dry, every margin for error is razor thin.
3. Philipp Grubauer deserved better. He was in a tough spot early in Tuesday night’s game, facing three shots in the first ten minutes with activity few and far between. Grubauer was quick, agile, and tracking the puck with his movements to keep New Jersey off the board for well over half of the game. It took almost 35 minutes to get the first one past him. One goal of run support is a tough ask for any goaltender to produce a win, and it’s been a tall reality for Grubauer, averaging just 2.6 goals of support in his starts this season. His play though has turned the corner since New Year’s Day, with a .937 save percentage ever since that day.
KRAKEN LINEUP VS. NEW JERSEY, 2/9: