Out of the break, but not out of the woods: Kraken fall in Philadelphia

Seattle Kraken v Philadelphia Flyers

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - FEBRUARY 10: Eeli Tolvanen #20 of the Seattle Kraken collides with Sean Walker #26 of the Philadelphia Flyers in the second period at the Wells Fargo Center on February 10, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)Photo: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Was it going to be rest, or rust? 

The question of uncertainty on the Seattle Kraken voyage out of the 11-day bye week was answered with Sean Couturier’s 11th goal of the season to snap a tie game at 5:30 of the third period, lifting the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-2 victory on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center. 

That voyage out of the break? The good ship Kraken unfortunately struggled to get the anchor aweigh, giving up a shorthanded goal late in the first period to scuttle a 1-1 tie and Couturier’s game winning goal to negate Jared McCann’s 21st goal of the season, a snipe from the right circle just 36 seconds into the third period. 

The Kraken found hints of their game that define success, but got only one more shot on net after that, outshot 14-2 by Philadelphia in the final period. They were completely shut out from any high danger chances but were also hampered with a pair of penalties in less than four minutes – Will Borgen was called for delay of game for tossing the puck out of play, and Jamie Oleksiak was tagged for interference at 9:10. 

“It’s not the way you want, going into the third,” said forward Alex Wennberg. “It’s a part of the game. We made a push, it wasn’t enough. But right now, you’ve got find a way to win these games. It’s tight, and it’s going to be that way in the future.”

“The kills take a lot of effort, take a lot of energy out of you, and take momentum away,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. 

It also tempered a first period where Joey Daccord was erratic on a pair of mid-range shots given up to Scott Laughton’s power play goal and Ryan Poehling’s shorthanded tally, but still effective enough to hold off the Flyers in what was a shaky first period for the Kraken, facing a Flyers team that had been broken in for two games out of the break and play at an on-brand John Tortorella breakneck pace.  

“A little bit off in execution and that changes the number of opportunities we were able to get,” said Hakstol. 

“(The Flyers) skate, they pressure, they stay on top.” 

The loss inflicted more damage on the Kraken playoff picture. St. Louis and Los Angeles both won on Sunday, putting the Kraken four points out of a playoff spot. Ample time remains to make up the deficit, but they are in a crowded field vying for two wild card spots. Nashville and Calgary each stand three points or more ahead of the Kraken, while Minnesota and Arizona have crept to within two points or closer. 

Cal Petersen made 17 saves for Philadelphia, while Daccord made 35 stops. 


Facing the facts: the odds were stacked against the Kraken for this game – it was their first game in 11 days, while the Flyers were in their third game. Unlike last season, there was no catastrophic injury in the first game back to cast a shadow on the night, like when Andre Burakovsky was lost for the season on a torn groin on his first shift, last year against the New York Islanders. 

But this was a game the Kraken could have taken, if details were taken care of in the right moments. In a 2-2 tie, the Kraken and Matty Beniers lost a face-off to Sean Couturtier. The Flyers worked the puck to Travis Sanheim, whose blast through traffic caromed off Couturier past Joey Daccord for a 3-2 lead. 

The Kraken won the face-off battle, but lost the wrong draw at the wrong time, and a separate battle of first period power play and shorthanded goals by Philadelphia, ultimately too difficult to overcome. In a season that must be won by the thinnest of margins, the gap was narrow, costly, and sunk into another defeat the Kraken must avoid staying in the race.    

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