TORONTO — For the longest time, it seemed that an elusive 60-minute effort by the Kraken against a perennial playoff team would go unrewarded.
They’d largely played the favored Maple Leafs to a standstill at even strength, only to face a two-goal, third-period deficit after a hat trick completed by Mitch Marner late in the middle frame mainly off the strength of some earlier power plays. But the Kraken, undaunted, kept pouring it on in that final period and eventually gained traction to salvage one point in this 4-3 shootout loss when Eeli Tolvanen scored and Jared McCann notched his second of the night to tie it with 6:36 to play in regulation.
Jordan Eberle nearly won it in a thrilling overtime session off a nice setup from Matty Beniers, but Toronto goalie Joseph Woll made a great save moving from his left to his right to extend things to the shootout.
Auston Matthews put a puck between Philipp Grubauer’s pads on Toronto’s second try of the shootout round. Marner capped a terrific individual night by scoring on Toronto’s third try of the shootout to negate the final Kraken opportunity.
The Kraken looked most of the night to be deserving of a better fate — once they stayed out of the penalty box. It was a far different story once Toronto went on the power play, with Marner scoring a game-opening goal a man up in the first period and then adding a 39-foot slap shot marker just 21 seconds into the middle frame. That second goal, putting Toronto ahead 2-0, technically wasn’t on the power play as a prior Will Borgen penalty expired a half-tick before the puck went in — though for all intents and purposes it was.
McCann got the Kraken on the board just three minutes later, though, with a blistering power-play goal of his own. And from there, after McCann’s team-leading 10th of the season, the Kraken mostly owned the rest of the middle period.
They wound up outshooting the Maple Leafs 17-7 and nearly tied it a couple of times before Adam Larsson attempted to feed the puck up ice with just more than four minutes to go. Jake McCabe intercepted it, sent Marner in alone on Grubauer and hats were soon raining down from the Scotiabank Arena stands as the third goal was potted.
It was a deflating finish to the frame for a Kraken squad that had played far more sloppily and with less compete-level in two prior losses to Chicago on Tuesday night and Vancouver last Friday. That home defeat to the Canucks was one in which the Kraken, to a man, admitted they hadn’t played a complete 60-minute game.
The road loss to the Blackhawks ahead of this contest was one in which the Kraken played well for sustained stretches, but allowed temporary lapses to undo them on the scoreboard.
It’s not the first time the Kraken have allowed wins to slip away from them with less than inspired play. And it looked as if that would hurt them doubly here as they seemed destined to lose to the Leafs and not gain a thing on a night things probably should have gone more their way.
Grubauer looked much sharper in goal than he had in Chicago, with the Kraken withstanding the early, penalty-fueled Toronto onslaught before finally regaining their footing.
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