Kraken leave 4-game trip empty in 4-2 loss at Montreal

Seattle Kraken v Chicago Blackhawks

Photo: Michael Reaves / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Sean Monahan scored twice around Tanner Pearson’s early second period goal to build a three-goal lead for the Montreal Canadiens, enough to hold off the Seattle Kraken, 4-2 in the Monday road trip finale before 20,915 fans at Bell Centre. 

The loss left the Kraken with a disappointing ending to a four-game road trip where they scraped just one point off the table, now winless in five straight (0-4-1) despite a terrific outing by Philipp Grubauer, who had to fight his way through a 26 save effort. Sam Montembault stopped 31 shots for win, holding off a Kraken rally on back to back goals by Jared McCann and Vince Dunn. 

"We can't be talking about after a game, about six to eight, or six to ten guys who've had excellent nights, and then, the rest of us not where we need to be,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. 

Takeaways from the game: 

1.     The first period became the ultimate undoing again: 

The Kraken haven’t held a lead in five consecutive games and the results were manifested from a slow first period, where they surrendered the first goal of the game. Montreal poured the pressure on Philipp Grubauer, who had to work hard for the 10 saves he made in the opening frame. 

But ask the Kraken themselves, who didn’t beat around the bush, admitting they had veterans step up and voice their concern in the dressing room after the first period, when they fell behind on a Sean Monahan goal that Grubauer had no chance to stop after a defensive zone turnover off the backboards by Jamie Oleksiak. 

Josh Anderson took the puck away and fed Monahan, wide open to Grubauer’s blocker side. 

“We need to come out a lot harder, a lot stronger,” said McCann. 

“Our effort in the first period was pretty embarrassing. To put our goalie in that position, to make those saves, especially coming in here, the period we played in Ottawa we felt like we controlled a lot of the game. Coming in here, we had some confidence. But maybe need to take a step back and look in the mirror.” 

Defenseman Vince Dunn was sharp to curb any undue criticism of Grubauer and Joey Daccord. 

“Our goalies have been great all year,” said Dunn. “I don’t care what anyone wants to say online. I see it all over. Grubie, Daccs. Defensively it’s not good enough for them. We’re giving them too many “grade ‘A’s’. They’re making a lot of saves to keep us in games.” 

“They’re doing their part back there.” 

2.     The Kraken were so close from this becoming a brand new game

The crazy part is considering how deep in a hole they were by the second period, they still had a chance to crawl back and tie things up. Jared McCann ended a team scoring drought of over 105 minutes when he took advantage of a tired Habs unit, and earned enough time at the inside of the right circle to uncork a wrist shot past Sam Montembault. 

This was the Montreal Canadiens we’re talking about, who dug a 3-0 hole the previous game against the Red Wings, recovered, and still lost in overtime. The Kraken turned the pace around for parts of the third period and outshot Montreal, 13-10. The power play, which had been struggling at a 1-of-17 clip entering the game, came through with a Vince Dunn blast just 4:49 into the period, leaving plenty of time on the table. Oliver Bjorkstrand slammed a snap shot off the post. Brandon Tanev was just a few inches away from catching Montembault off guard on a wrap-around attempt. 

“I think our puck possession was a lot more executed, our support away from the puck was better,” said Dunn. “I think we just sped the game too fast for ourselves, playing a little behind each play.” 

One goal perhaps changes the game. But that admittedly resides in an alternative universe, only a hint for a change of course for what’s next.

3.     We’re getting to situation: critical for the regular season

The Kraken embarked on a four-game road trip, facing three teams out of the playoff picture. The only team above the bar was the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Kraken forced them to a shootout, salvaging one point for the standings. 

Every other game, against Chicago, Ottawa, and Montreal, three teams on the struggle bus: zero points. 

A big opportunity to make a move fell between the cracks, and the Kraken slipped to five points back of the final wild card spot, after St. Louis beat Vegas on Tuesday in overtime. This will now turn the attention to a six game homestand, where the Kraken are getting shorter on time and mulligans to make up the start of the season that has performed beneath expectations. 

Up on the schedule: New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Florida, Chicago, and Los Angeles. That’s a mixed bag of power hitters, underachievers, and a team in rebuilding mode, making this homestand a critical stretch to grab points off the table, before the playoff bar gets too high.

The Kraken know the temperature of the situation. 

“It’s really unacceptable to come out with nothing,” said Dunn. “We see how well we can play. So maybe look at those and understand how close we are. But being close doesn’t cut it, it doesn’t win you games.” 

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