Kraken show some fight, but Lightning strike in OT to extend losing streak

Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times on

Published in Hockey

SEATTLE — There was no mistaking the fiery Seattle Kraken pushback from two goals down in this one after the Climate Pledge Arena crowd let fly with some boos just one period in.

They’d been badly outshot in the opening period Saturday night by the Tampa Bay Lightning, trailed by two at intermission and the paying customers were vocally fed up. So were the Kraken, apparently, as they recovered with three straight goals to take a lead but once again couldn’t finish and took a 4-3 overtime defeat that extended their losing streak to seven games.

NHL points leader Nikita Kucherov scored his second goal of the night with 1:48 to go in the extra session to cap a Tampa Bay comeback.

Jared McCann had given the Kraken their first lead in more than two weeks, scoring his 13 th of the season on a booming slap shot just 14 seconds into the third period to snap a 2-2 tie. The Kraken before that goal, from the top of the left faceoff circle, had gone 400 minutes and 14 seconds since their last lead against the San Jose Sharks eight games prior.

But Nicholas Paul tied it for the Lightning off an odd-man rush seven minutes later, scoring on Joey Daccord, who’d come on to replace injured Philipp Grubauer at the start of the third.

Grubauer suffered a lower body injury in the final minute of the second period when he moved quickly from left to right to try and thwart a 2-on-1 break by Tampa Bay. He stayed in the game, but skated gingerly off the ice and was replaced by Joey Daccord to start the third period.

Justin Schultz also left the game with an upper body injury and did not return.

Oliver Bjorkstrand and Jamie Oleksiak had scored a pair of second period markers to bring the Kraken back seemingly from the dead. They nearly scored again, only to have a Devin Shore goal overturned by a coach’s challenge for offside, and then kept going at the Lightning with an increasingly physical presence from there.

And they were playing as intensely physical as they have in a while, with Brandon Tanev and Vince Dunn slugging it out with Lightning players in a late-period scrum that wound up with the Kraken getting an extra penalty. On the ensuing Tampa Bay power play, Brayden Point was positioned to score on an empty net when Oleksiak came out of nowhere and flattened the Lightning star before he could get a shot off.


It was the type of effort often lacking from the Kraken during the losing skid until it was too late.

Bjorkstrand nearly had a go-ahead power play goal in the final seven minutes of regulation, but fired the puck just wide of an open right side of the net.

Kraken coach Dave Hakstol had said after Saturday’s morning skate that he wasn’t concerned about a dip in morale by his squad after Thursday’s dispiriting 2-1 loss to a New Jersey Devils team they’d outshot 38-17.

“I don’t know if you can guard against anything,” Hakstol said. “I think you have to look at things honestly that we did well and speak to the positives. Look for two or three things that we can improve on and improve within our team game. And then you move forward … everyone in that room, these are pros.”

But pros or not, the Kraken looked terrible in the opening period, getting outshot 13-4 and being completely outplayed. If not for Grubauer, they might have trailed by four goals instead of just two.

It’s the kind of disappearing act they’d pulled in multiple games on the Kraken’s recent winless road trip and the fans watching were unimpressed. First period goals by Anthony Cirelli and Kucherov appeared to have the Kraken headed to defeat yet again.

But Grubauer was particularly strong throughout the opening two periods before his injury and kept things close enough for the Kraken to get back in it. Bjorkstrand got that going with a snapper from atop the right circle that beat Andrei Vasilevskiy to cut Tampa Bay’s lead in half.

Not long after, Jordan Eberle stole a puck in behind the net and sent it out front to Oleksiak for a 45-foot slap shot that evened things anew.

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