Vowing a different game, the Seattle Kraken didn’t follow the same script, but unfortunately came up with the same result. This time, a trio of Dallas Stars power play goals earned a wire-to-wire effort, sending the Kraken to a 5-2 loss on Monday at Climate Pledge Arena.
The homestand, of the four game variety, ended with a parched 1-2-1 record, with the Kraken dropping both games of the back-to-back slate against Dallas, who is churning toward the Central Division title. With 15 games to go, they see a three game losing streak as a bump in the road, not an outlet for panic.
COMPLETE RADIO GAME HIGHLIGHTS
“We’ve been a group that’s been able to turn the page and go back to the next job at hand,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol.
“Most critical time of year. The strength of this group is that – the group. We had a few holes that ended up getting us. We’ve got to make sure we turn the page and have a short memory.”
They are eight points clear of a playoff spot, ahead of both Nashville and Calgary, who are tied at 73 points.
Dallas got out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Evgeni Dadonov and Jamie Benn, never letting the Kraken get closer than a one-goal deficit. Yanni Gourde and Eeli Tolvanen each scored on the Kraken side, while Vince Dunn, whose red-hot touch has multi point outings in three straight games, has a ten game assist streak.
Joe Pavelski, Wyatt Johnston and Jason Robertson each scored the final three Dallas goals, giving Jake Oettinger a 26-save effort for the win. Martin Jones took the loss on 27 stops.
1. THE PENALTY KILL’S ROUGH NIGHT: The Kraken had been struggling in this area until the Feb. 14, then embarking on a torrid 31-of-32 stretch, best in the NHL for the span of a month. Penalty killing and goaltending are key ingredients for late season and playoff success, and the Kraken fell into a hole that was too difficult to climb out of or fell another notch back further when Dallas earned their three man advantage goals.
“It changed the game,” said forward Alex Wennberg, who has played a key role in the resurgent kill over the last month.
“(Dallas) did their homework but obviously we’ve got to be better than that. Tight game. We had good minutes but special teams were the difference today.”
Jones made a great right pad save stop, only leading to a rebound the Kraken failed to track on Benn’s first period goal. Joe Pavelski, one of the greatest of all-time at deflecting shots, outplayed the Kraken box-out attempt and deflected Benn’s second period blast to put the Kraken into a two-goal hole. Robertson then parked the team’s third power play goal just 40 seconds into the third, putting it out of reach. It didn’t help the Kraken had Yanni Gourde, Jamie Oleksiak, and Adam Larsson in the box for those goals, all three principal players on the penalty kill unit. The last the time the Kraken allowed three power play goals in a game was December 3 at home, in a 5-1 loss at Florida. The only other time they allowed that many: Nov. 27 when they needed five goals to beat the lottery-bound Anaheim Ducks (5-4 win).
“We seemed to be one second late,” said Larsson. “That pretty much cost us the game.”
2. THE KRAKEN COULD USE ANDRE BURAKOVSKY: Most recent solid projections, as of late February, said Burakovsky would be due back by the middle of March. The goal posts can always move depending on a player’s rehab progress, but it’s about time where the Kraken could use the infusion of another top six scoring threat, and for much of the season, their leading scorer. Out since the first game of February, the Kraken have been forced to shuffle the deck to keep production moving. At times, it’s worked. They’ve had eight games of four goals or more in this last month, with Jesper Froden finding a place in the lineup since his call-up from Coachella Valley. But since Burakovsky’s absence, the Kraken are 8-7-2. During the torrid month of January, when the Kraken ripped off a 7-0 road trip, they moved Jared McCann to Alex Wennberg’s line, along with Jaden Schwartz – when healthy. Burakovsky slid into the left wing along with Matty Beniers and Jordan Eberle.
Beniers, who’s now gone nine straight games without a goal, had an 11-point month in January through 12 games and also scored six goals in that span.
During that month of January, the Kraken scored an average of 3.7 goals per game. Since Burakovsky’s been out, they dipped to 3.0 per game. Number 95 might as well be the “late trade deadline-like” pickup the Kraken need, replenishing their top six forwards and power play.
3. FIRE AND BRIMSTONE THURSDAY: The Kraken will take it. They’ve never lost four games in a row all season and will have unfinished business to handle when they face last place San Jose, who beat the Kraken 4-0 last month, even without Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier (who’s now gone to New Jersey). Each time they’ve won coming out of a three-game losing streak, they’ve won the “race to four” (allowing three goals or less each time), while the penalty kill has gone a combined 10-of-11. Which of course, takes us back to the impact of top end special teams. The Kraken can use it again on Thursday.
Very likely, it will take 94 points to make the playoffs, based on projections from FiveThirtyEight.com. The Kraken have 15 more games to get there, needing 13 more points. Realistically, it’s a race that’s still too close to call – with Nashville owning three games in hand (right now, how big are those two at Bridgestone Arena next week?). Back to the road they go, where that 21-9-3 mark away from home ice will be very useful.
KRAKEN LINEUP VS DALLAS, 3/13: