Kraken offense goes dry in 2-0 loss at Ottawa

Seattle Kraken v Detroit Red Wings

Photo: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Anton Forsberg needed only a pair of goals, one each in the first two periods by Mathieu Joseph and Drake Batherson, to secure a 39-save shutout and help the Ottawa Senators send the Seattle Kraken to a 2-0 defeat at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday. 

The Kraken are still without a win since Thanksgiving Eve when they routed San Jose, 7-1, and fell three points back of the final wild card spot in their third game of the trip, aiming to salvage it on Monday’s finale at Montreal. 

The bottom line, the Kraken are at a point where they are challenging themselves to do more. 

"It comes down to us, and we have to find ways to win,” said forward Jordan Eberle.

Joey Daccord, forced to make several key saves to keep the game close in the second and third period, took the loss on 26 saves. 

Three takeaways from the game: 

1.     Joey Daccord wasn’t perfect but was good enough. 

Daccord’s 26 saves on a typical night would have been good enough to win. Except Anton Forsberg was letter perfect, though the shot quality typically tilted toward Ottawa’s direction for much of the evening. 

The lone miscue on Daccord’s end was a misplayed puck behind the net with defenseman Will Borgen, sending the Kraken and Daccord into a recovery scramble, and Drake Batherson open at the left post to deposit Tim Stützle’s feed for a 2-0 Ottawa lead. As an active goaltender, the decision to play a puck will come with benefits and risk. That’s the nature of a goaltender with skill. Dave Hakstol chalked it up to a growth moment for everybody. 

“That’s a play where (Joey) is going to learn from,” said Hakstol. “Just purely being decisive on a tough puck. I think it’s right decision by him to get out and stop that rim. It becomes a dirty puck when it hops on him. At that point in time, with good communication around him, that’s a time you want to make a decisive play with that puck and get it out of the danger area.” 

2.     High shot volume, low shot threat. 

The genesis of the Kraken offense comes with skating, with pace, and winning races to rebound opportunities when the initial shot goes in. That didn’t happen for much of the evening, and the Kraken fell well short on the execution scale, especially when Forsberg was stopping everything he was seeing.  

“We didn’t get to second pucks,” said Hakstol. “(Forsberg) is a guy where you’ve got to be able to take away his eyes, and we didn’t do well enough of that for sure, first half of the game.” 

“They were committed to getting in shot lanes and blocking shots in front of their net. We missed on some of the second layer opportunities.” 

Though the Kraken pumped up the shot volume on net in the third period to nearly get 40 on Forsberg, shot quality percentage for Ottawa at five-on-five veered into the 60’s early in the game, as the Kraken failed to create continuous pressure at the Ottawa net, limiting their second chance opportunities as they fell behind. Jaden Schwartz is adept at that exact role. He will be out of the picture until after New Year’s Day with an upper body injury, challenging the Kraken to find a spark and greater collective effort for traffic at the net. 

3.     The first periods are like a hurdle that keeps getting bigger. 

For the fourth straight game, the Kraken fell behind and it reaped consequences. Ottawa, for one, was 0-5 when trailing after the first period, but the Kraken were facing a beleaguered squad with the worst record in the Eastern Conference, underperforming with a collection of talent including Brady Tkachuk, Stützle, Claude Giroux, and more. They had one of the league’s most tattered penalty kill units, had surrendered six power play goals in the last three games, and came into the game emitting fumes after a loss in Columbus the previous evening. 

The Kraken made it easy on them by coming up empty on an early first period power play, then slipped into a 1-0 deficit after Matty Beniers uncharacteristically blew a tire deep in his own zone, coughing the puck up to the Senators where seconds later, Mathieu Joseph deposited the game’s first goal in front of a wide open Joey Daccord. 

Six of the eight Kraken wins this season have come when leading after the first period. We often talk about the “good starts” to the point where it may seem ad nausea, but they create the ultimate launching point, and the Kraken need them again – devoid of a first period lead since the San Jose blowout on Thanksgiving eve. They will have to start finding them more on a routine basis, slipping to three points out of the playoff picture after Saturday.

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