"Big saves at the right time": 3 observations in a big shootout win

Boston Bruins v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 26: Kailer Yamamoto #56 of the Seattle Kraken scores against Linus Ullmark #35 of the Boston Bruins during a shootout at Climate Pledge Arena on February 26, 2024 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Down by a goal with 20 minutes the left, the Seattle Kraken faced a daunting task, accomplished just once before this entire season:

A comeback, and win, when trailing after two periods. 

Mission accomplished on Monday night. A pair of third period goals from Vince Dunn and Oliver Bjorkstrand were enough to ward off a two-goal, three-point effort from David Pastrnak as the Kraken swept the Boston Bruins in the regular season series and beat them, 4-3 in a shootout before a sellout crowd at Climate Pledge Arena. 

How did they pull it off? 

“Desperation,” said Dunn. 

“We played the right way for a very, very good portion of that game. It’s not going to always be perfect. But I thought the guys did what we had to do, and guys came up in big places in big times during the game.” 

Pastrnak was again a factor, collecting his 700th career point on a first period breakaway goal, slamming in a second period one-timer, and nearly earning a hat trick on a late third period blast that deflected off Charlie Coyle, and by goaltender Philipp Grubauer. 

Ultimately, it was a frenetic overtime, including a hit post by Matty Beniers and a Grubauer breakaway save on Jake DeBrusk, that kept the Kraken afloat as Grubauer bested Linus Ullmark in the shootout, stopping all three attempts. 

“Real solid, all the way through,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. 

“Some big saves at the right time. Three for three in the shootout. Not much more we can ask from ‘Grubie’ tonight.” 

Jordan Eberle scored a second period goal for a 1-1 tie, as the Kraken moved to within five points of the wild card in a tight Western Conference playoff race.


1.     Philipp Grubauer was lights out

Three shots on 32 saves should do the trick in one of the biggest wins of the year, if not the biggest win of the year. The Kraken playoff hopes right now are hanging by a thread. They are five points back of the cut line in the Western Conference, falling deeper in the win column, and Grubauer arrived in a game they had to win. 

It carried resemblance to the crunch time wins he delivered last season, none more famous than game seven in Denver. He was calm with movement, rarely made a leaky save, and shut the door on Brad Marchand in the third period and on a Jake DeBrusk breakaway in overtime, right before he shut down the Bruins on all three attempts in the shootout. 

He was not infallible – David Pastrnak just about single-handedly dragged the Bruins into the fight. But Grubauer is 3-0 since returning from injury and has delivered goaltending to spell Joey Daccord in a time they need it the most. 

2.     The lineup switch worked

It seemed inconceivable just weeks ago to break up Eeli Tolvanen, Yanni Gourde, and Oliver Bjorkstrand. But Bjorkstrand had gone through a nine-game goal scoring drought, and Andre Burakovsky had just one goal in 26 games. 

The response was to switch them, and it delivered results. Burakovsky set up Vince Dunn’s game tying goal in the third period, and Bjorkstrand put the Bruins nearly off the cliff with his deflection, 5:30 left in regulation. 

How long they last will depend on if the win over the Bruins lights a spark on a rally to save the season. But for one night, the ideal of trying something new with established talent, went a long way. 

3.     Grit got the Kraken through

The Kraken had to try several maneuvers to get this win in the bank. The Grubauer move worked. The lineup adjustment worked. Ultimately, it came down to elevating physical play in critical areas of the ice, mainly the front of the net. 

Eberle, in the right place at the right time, made Ullmark pay for a costly mistake as he threw a clearing attempt into Eberle for an open net goal. 

Dunn used a slight screen to rip his 11th goal of the season past Ullmark. Bjorkstrand’s deflection in the slot, off a Will Borgen blast, gave the Kraken a lead that put Boston on the edge. Beniers nearly won it in overtime, demonstrating a matured element of his game by forcing his way to the Bruins net, and missing the winner off the crossbar.  

Roughly 12 hours prior, the Kraken admitted the calendar has turned into what feels like a playoff type of season. Playoff type of games demand physicality. The Kraken raised their level to match the demands of the evening.

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