Three difference makers in a Kraken loss to Dallas

Columbus Blue Jackets v Seattle Kraken

Photo: Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Facing one of the oldest, yet biggest teams in the National Hockey League on Saturday night, the Seattle Kraken knew they’d be in for a stiffer test than the previous two days. 

This was a 100-point behemoth, the Dallas Stars, well on their way to the Stanley Cup Playoffs – a slight change from a lottery bound team in the Anaheim Ducks, the previous two nights. 

A 3-0 loss on Saturday at Climate Pledge Arena affirmed that challenge, when the Kraken were shutout by Jake Oettinger’s 18 saves, but also fighting through a constricting challenge of one of the league’s tallest and heaviest teams assembled this season. With a team struggling for offense this season, it only compounded matters further on the Kraken end.

“They're a hard team to get into offensively,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “In the first period, our bigger issue was coming out of the zone and getting through the neutral zone, whether it was their pressure on our (defense) or their ability to make the next play off of the wall.” 

The Kraken were held to three shots on net in that first period. Tough fight, indeed. But to compound matters, trailing 1-0 just 19 seconds into the third period, an elbow on a check against the boards from Adam Larsson which appeared to initially graze the arm of defenseman Chris Tanev, but a later replay showed the hit glance Tanev’s head, which sent the Stars blueliner to the dressing room – wincing his arm. 

The call was originally boarding, then changed to a five-minute major for elbowing, and a game misconduct for Larsson. 

Hakstol declined to comment on the nature of the call, but it was obvious that Larsson’s absence left a glaring hole in the Kraken lineup. Joe Pavelski needed only nine seconds to cash in a power play goal for a 2-0 lead.

“You don't like to lose an important player for us,” said Hakstol. “But I mean, the other five guys are there, they're available, and they're capable of doing the job.” 

Joey Daccord’s 27 saves kept the Kraken neck-and-neck with the Stars, including a highlight reel stop on Roope Hintz in the third period. The Stars were held off the board until Wyatt Johnston’s deflection on a Nils Lundkvist point shot with 1:48 to go in the second period. 

Pavelski’s early third period goal was followed up by Hintz’s empty netter with 1:17 left. 

Three moments that made a difference: 

1.        The first period: This wasn’t the free-wheeling, open spaces situation the Kraken encountered when facing a young Anaheim team. Dallas’ shutdown play was dialed in right from the start, frequently dismantling the Kraken and their attacking strategy through the neutral zone, and rarely allowing any looks at Oettinger. 

The Kraken earned more looks in the second period, but the tone was set. 

“We left a little bit on the table,” said Hakstol. “In order to generate against this group, you've got to be committed to getting to the bottom. If you don't have an outnumbered situation, it has to go to the bottom, you have to do the work.” 

2.        The late second period face-off: End zone face-offs matter, and goal scoring in late portions of period matter. On Saturday, they made the Kraken chase Dallas for the rest of the night, obstructed by the Stars’ stifling structure. But Dallas’ Johnston won a face-off against Jaden Schwartz, who then offered his stick in the line of Nils Lundkvist’s point shot, deflecting it by Daccord for the eventual game winner. 

3.        The major penalty: Flat out, the penalty led to Pavelski’s goal to put the Stars up by two, which seemed to put them at ease with their game and settle into a shutdown mode. The hit needed review by the officials, originally for boarding (changed to an elbowing call), and Larsson was gone – removing the biggest workhorse without Vince Dunn on the Kraken blueline with an average of 23:04 per game.  

The NHL rule book states (45.3) for elbowing, “a major penalty must be imposed under this rule for an infraction resulting in an injury to the face of head of an opponent.” 

No way around it. 

With nine games left, the Kraken will visit the San Jose Sharks on Monday to open a three-game homestand at 7:30pm (93.3 KJR/ Kraken Audio Network). 

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content