Kraken start road trip with 4-3 loss in Chicago

Seattle Kraken v Chicago Blackhawks

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 28: Jared McCann #19 of the Seattle Kraken and Kevin Korchinski #55 of the Chicago Blackhawks fight during the second period at the United Center on November 28, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)Photo: Michael Reaves / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Tyler Johnson and Mackenzie Entwistle scored over six minutes apart to break a tie game in the second period, enough to hold off a third period rally attempt and help the Chicago Blackhawks defeat the Seattle Kraken, 4-3 before 17,070 at United Center on Wednesday. 

The loss dropped the Kraken a point out of the playoff picture, falling to 4-3 all-time against the Blackhawks. Shots weren’t the issue this evening: the Kraken pounded goaltender Petr Mrazek, who made 33 stops, and turned up the heat with a 12-3 edge in shots for the third period. 

The difference makers though were giveaways and breakdowns that led to Blackhawks goals, while Kraken went 0-for-5 on the power play and let a two-man advantage for 1:03 slip away in the final six minutes of regulation, relegating the Kraken to back-to-back losses after going through a 3-0-2 stretch. 

“Our puck play was pretty sloppy through the first two periods,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. 

“When you have shifts that are not crisp, are not sharp, you’re not taking care of the puck and giving opportunities, you’re going to have some ugly things happen.” 

Matty Beniers, Alex Wennberg, and Tye Kartye scored for the Kraken, who lost Jaden Schwartz early in the third period after taking a shot off his foot. Boris Katchouk and Jason Dickinson staked Chicago out to a 2-0 lead before Beniers and Wennberg tied the game late in the first period, scoring 4:40 apart. 

“We were a little slow in the second when they got those two goals, we were being a little careless with the puck, a little slow,” said Beniers.  

Three takeaways from the game: 

1.     The one that got away – the five on three power play: This is where the game was decided on the Kraken side of things – the Blackhawks penalty kill squashed all five chances and survived a sequence where the Kraken generated three shot attempts and came up empty, two by Beniers on a wrist shot that missed wide and a tip above the crossbar as the first Blackhawks penalty expired. 

Five-on-three opportunities are as wide open of a door as it gets to generate offense in the NHL. They can be game changers, or tone reinforcements. The Kraken power play, which generally has been a productive bright spot, fizzled at the wrong time and gave the Blackhawks a lifeline, who were backed into a corner with the constant pressure from the Kraken during the entire evening. Chicago took advantage of their escape route. 

2.     Don’t overlook Jaden Schwartz’s absence. What could have been on the two-man advantage: this is where Jaden Schwartz was missed, for his ability to bludgeon for space at the front of the net, to his puck possession skills that continue pressure on the power play. In addition, the Kraken were forced into line shuffling for the remainder of the evening. 

How long he’ll be out is a matter of question, but his offense has made a major impact early in the season where the Kraken have found their struggles, but still have found enough success to hang out in the playoff race at the quarter pole of the season. He is a leader who sets the tone with stability, he is an all situations player, and he started out hot. They are already trying to figure out the lineup without Andre Burakovsky and Brandon Tanev. A healthy Schwartz last season was a linchpin for the playoff run, and will be principal again this season, as the Kraken continue to manage a bumpy start with injuries. 

Regardless, they will look for leadership outside of a singular approach to take charge of the situation, where they are looking to get out of the two-game slide that has put them outside of the playoff picture. 

“We were able to that last year, we have to keep pushing and find a way to do it again this year,” said Beniers. I think we’re playing good sometimes, and not so good in others. We’ve just to find a way to win.” 

3.     On a bright note – Matty Beniers is back on the board. Matty Beniers had a goal and an assist – both making a major impact in the game – as the Kraken keep looking for ways to permanently ignite his game after a slow start. 

The vital signs on Tuesday were promising. Beniers started the Kraken rally down 2-0 with his fourth goal of the season, with 5:17 left in the first period, and his first five-on-five goal of the year when he persisted on a loose puck and drove it past Mrazek from the left circle. For a player who was due to address an enhanced level of physicality to start the year, and a stretch of where he was robbed on several grade-A chances, the assertiveness on the goal he scored was an encouraging sign a player the Kraken need to play with confidence, generate offense, and produce results. 

Beniers then set up Kartye’s goal to get the Kraken to within 4-3 in the third period and still plenty of time on the clock. He won two key face-offs on the third period power play where the Kraken ultimately came up short. Last season, 20 of his 24 goals came on wins. While this season has started dry, three of his four goals have come up in wins. Where Beniers goes, the Kraken will generally go as well. 

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content