Evans debut, Kartye's goal, draws attention in loss to Devils

San Jose Sharks v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 22: Tye Kartye #52 of the Seattle Kraken looks on during the third period against the San Jose Sharks at Climate Pledge Arena on November 22, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Akira Schmid put together a 37-save performance to limit the Seattle Kraken to a second period goal by Tye Kartye in a 2-1 defeat to the New Jersey Devils before a sellout crowd on Thursday night at Climate Pledge Arena.

New Jersey only needed a first period goal from Ondrej Palat, on their fifth shot of the game, and Simon Nemec’s first career NHL goal in the second period which stood as the game winner. Philipp Grubauer, who wasn’t as busy as Schmid, made 15 saves. 

Takeaways from the game: 

1.     Ryker Evans debut: It was as good as it could get without scoring a goal. Evans was deployed for his first shift in the defensive zone, made a clean and firm breakout pass to scoot the puck up ice, and frequently got involved in the rush – no surprise given his skill set, and paired with a defenseman in Brian Dumoulin whose job is use his size in a safer, more conservative role. 

Evans earned the trust of Dave Hakstol to play meaningful minutes – 17:50 of ice time, a plus-one rating, matched with two hits and two blocked shots. Based on head coach Dave Hakstol’s feedback, he’s trending in the right direction stay awhile. 

“Ryker was good tonight,” said Hakstol, who also complimented his intelligence. 

“You always look for comfort and confidence, and he displayed that right away from the start of the hockey game, all the way through.” 

2.     Akira Schmid: This is going to gnaw at a few people, but Schmid had a performance akin to what Anton Forsberg in Ottawa and the Edmonton Oilers, overall, were thirsty for – a bounce-back night. Schmid and Vitek Vanecek combined for the league’s worst save percentage in the NHL, but it didn’t matter on Thursday. The Kraken thew the kitchen sink at the Devils looking for holes – and Schmid saved his best for the third period, stopping a flurry of chances at the middle portion, was rescued on a whiffed one-timer by Matty Beniers, and on a shorthanded odd-man when Jared McCann beat him, but hit the crossbar. 

The connection here is the Kraken see this as a fixable trait to change their fortunes – starting with how they fix their positioning at the net. 

“We’ve got to change something, we can’t let this keep going,” said Alex Wennberg. “It’s got to be a different mindset.”

“We’ve got to find ways to screen the goalie, change it up a little bit, because the opportunities are there, but if there are rebounds, those are the goals you have to score.” 

3.     Kraken effort: One of their best all season, maybe their best while going away empty-handed. Tye Kartye scored the only goal while rounding out a hard-nosed game with three hits. Andre Burakovsky looked to make progress before being shelved with another ailment in the third period (Hakstol said an evaluation would be coming later). Defensive lapses ultimately cost them on both the Palat and Nemec goals, but they were few and far between.

However – offensive dry spells tend to magnify mistakes, leaving little margin for error. And by scoring just one goal despite the flurry of chances (including a third period where the Kraken had a staggering 15-4 lead in shot attempts at full strength) means any tiny miscue can change the game. And maybe, change the course of a season. The Kraken are now six-points out of a wild card spot, and Hakstol said the key to managing frustration is “live in the moment.” 

“I thought our guys did a great job today of not allowing that’s in the past or coming in front of us affect our game today,” said Hakstol. 

“We worked hard tonight. We competed extremely hard.” 

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