Grubauer leaves early with illness in 6-4 Kraken loss to Oilers (AUDIO)

Edmonton Oilers v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MARCH 18: Philipp Grubauer #31 of the Seattle Kraken makes a save in front of Kailer Yamamoto #56 of the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at Climate Pledge Arena on March 18, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

Evander Kane earned his first hat trick of the season, while Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl combined between the trio to post nine points to help the Edmonton Oilers hold off the Seattle Kraken, 6-4 before a standing room only crowd of 17,171 on Saturday afternoon at Climate Pledge Arena. 

The loss helped Edmonton gain ground on second place, four points back of the Kings in the Pacific Division, while the Kraken had to stay put in the wild card race, holding the first spot with a six point lead on the Flames, the first team on the outside who took Dallas to overtime on Saturday and lost. 

“You play a team like that, they’re going to score goals,” said forward Oliver Bjorkstrand. “The details still have to be there and you’ve got to find a way to make it a closer game with goal-scoring.” 


The story was Philipp Grubauer, or whatever minutes he could play on Saturday. The Kraken goaltender, arguably turning the corner since New Year’s Day and helping swipe a 2-1 overtime win at San Jose on Thursday, fell ill around puck drop time and could only play through the first 26 minutes before taking himself out of the game, and replaced by backup Martin Jones. 

Grubauer allowed the first shot to go in, by Kane, just 1:35 into the contest and allowed three goals on ten shots. Jones allowed three goals on 13 shots. 

Jaden Schwartz (helped out by a Vince Dunn blast for a 12-game point streak), Jordan Eberle, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Eeli Tolvanen scored for the Kraken, usually a suitable offensive output to win. But Edmonton, who never trailed in the game, also were helped out on goals by Kailer Yamamoto and Zach Hyman. 

Forward John Hayden and Oilers counterpart Klim Kostin fought at the 12:15 mark of the second period. Hayden, who was visibly seen landing awkwardly on his right leg, missing the remainder of the game due to what the team termed a “lower body” injury. Head coach Dave Hakstol said an update is likely coming on Sunday.


1.     Get well, Philipp Grubauer. From the onset of this game, you could tell it was an off-day for Grubauer. The first shot unleashed by Evander Kane beat him five-hole, a routine shot that Grubauer stops. The second shot caromed off his glove, leading us to wonder if this was one of the rarer “off days” Grubauer had in a while. Little did we know, he was battling illness, onset around puck drop time. Hakstol wouldn’t elaborate on the condition, but it was apparent it affected Gruabuer’s afternoon, in a game that otherwise showcased the Kraken fighting through to keep it within a goal. 

“Our team played a good hockey game today,” said Hakstol. “It’s an even hockey game where we worked extremely hard on the offensive side of the puck. We grinded for offensive opportunities and generated good offensive opportunities for the majority of the sixty minutes.” 

“We played a little too much from behind.” 

Grubauer hung in there until 13:30 left in the second period, when visibly had enough and gave way to Martin Jones, ice cold and yielded a 4-2 lead on the first shot he saw. The Kraken playoff cushion exists at six points with 13 games to play. It’s far from over, but they are in position because of Grubauer turning the corner mostly since New Year’s Day. They will need him at his best for the remainder of the season to clinch a playoff berth.   

“We gave them too many high quality chances,” said Eberle. “They obviously have good players where they’re going to bear down.” 

2.     Edmonton is finding their stride. If there’s any question mark around the Oilers and their chances to make another deep playoff run, it’s around goaltending. They got Jack Campbell in the off-season, who fizzled with an .882 save percentage and has lost the starting job to Stuart Skinner. On Saturday, Skinner had plenty of leaks. The Kraken were in position to perhaps steal a victory, despite how precarious the 1pm game started. 

But this is the Edmonton Oilers we’re talking about, chock full of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Evander Kane, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and more. They still hung six goals up on the board. McDavid was quiet for parts of the day and still hung three points. Kane had a hat trick and scored arguably two of the most important goals (both early in the first and second period), Draisaitl had three assists, and newcomer Mattias Ekholm dished three assists as well. These Oilers are perfectly fine with making you win the race the five or six goals. They have firepower to do it every time. That will be an extreme handful come playoff time, in the new era of the NHL where scoring is up in the league. 

3.     Just in time for another road trip, right? In what is likely an opportunity for team bonding with the next game still a few days out in Dallas, the Kraken will travel to the California desert where a practice at Acrisure Arena, home of their AHL affiliate Coachella Valley Firebirds, awaits on Monday. The mystery of an imbalanced road record versus home record still has been unsolved, and the Kraken have dropped a puzzling four straight losses on home ice, arguably where a home crowd exists that is – at its peak - among the loudest in the NHL. 

Yet, Carson Soucy said the Kraken have an “underdog mentality” on the road that is needed on home ice. Peculiar as it is, their road record has been phenomenal all year – 22-9-3 – tied for third most road wins in the NHL and scoring 128 goals on the road (fourth most in the NHL). They are cool, calm, poised, and positioned to handle volatile road environments. We go back to the 7-0 road trip that included wins through Edmonton, Toronto, and Boston as proof. Now they will need that same formula through four stops with teams in playoff spots, or challenging to get in – Dallas, two at Nashville, and Minnesota, to help seal their playoff future. 

“We’ve got to win games, it’s tight right now,” said Bjorkstrand. “We have our eyes on making playoffs. But right now, it’s ‘one game at a time’.” 

“We know the situation right now.” 

For a team that’s won six of the last eight games on the road, that Palm Springs trip – ultimately a chance for a reset – comes at the right time. 




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