The Kraken shot themselves in the tentacle against the Jets Sunday. Actually, they shot themselves in all eight tentacles, with each of their eight penalties representing another wounded appendage.
Often times, when a team takes a point out of a game for losing in overtime, it’s easy to find moral victories. But after the Kraken had Sunday’s game against Winnipeg in the bag and let it slip out the bottom thanks to an outrageous number of penalties, the mood in the Seattle dressing room was somber.
“For me, it’s about the third period,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “We put ourselves in position to win a game, and three minor penalties are probably the thing that stands out the most. When you do that during the third period, right down to the last 30 seconds, that’s a tough way to close out a hockey game.”
Seattle took a whopping eighth penalty of the game with 25 seconds left in regulation. Blake Wheeler tied the game with just five seconds left, and Mark Scheifele won it just 54 seconds into overtime.
“Those are the ones that really sting,” Jordan Eberle said. “You never know what point is going to get you into the playoffs, and when you make mistakes and keep giving good teams like that opportunities, that’s what’s going to happen.”
Here are our Three Takeaways from a miserable 3-2 Kraken overtime loss to the Jets.
Takeaway #1: Never retaliate, especially with 25 seconds left
The Kraken were playing with fire all night, taking penalty after penalty. Their PK, which entered the game with 16 consecutive successful kills, finally gave up its first goal against since Oct. 27. The streak-snapping tally came in the second period when Sam Gagner intentionally shot wide of Martin Jones and got a great bounce off the lively Climate Pledge Arena end boards. The puck caromed right to Scheifele on the other side, who had a yawning cage and an easy goal.
Even with the unfortunate bounce, Seattle looked poised to have another mostly successful night with the manpower disadvantage. It killed off Winnipeg’s sixth power play after Eberle had been nabbed for hooking Nate Schmidt at 16:39 of the third period. That was a dominant kill at a big moment.
Surely Seattle wouldn’t get another penalty after that, right?
With the clock ticking down and Jets goalie David Rittich off for an extra attacker, the Kraken looked fully content to bleed out the clock and take their two points. But in front of the net, Pierre-Luc Dubois gave Carson Soucy a nasty two-handed slash across the calves. Soucy responded with a punch to the back of Dubois’ head. The referee immediately blew the whistle and—we could have sworn—motioned as if he was taking both players to the box.
That’s not what happened, though. Instead, only Soucy went off, giving Winnipeg its seventh power play of the game.
“It’s an undisciplined penalty on our part,” Hakstol said. “We just need to close that game out. We don’t need to settle any scores at that point in time.”
While we recall seeing the referee motion as if both players were going off, Hakstol was further confused by the timing of when the play was whistled down. “I am a little confused at how that whole sequence happened and why the play was blown down when it was if both guys weren’t going to the box.” The whistle went when the Jets had the puck, which would have indicated the refs intended to take both players off.
So, there’s something fishy there. But the moral of the story is you never retaliate, especially in the waning seconds of a game when you’re holding a tenuous lead.
“Myself included, it’s just not understanding the situation,” Eberle said. “And that hurts.”
The ill-advised Soucy penalty doomed the Kraken in the end. Kyle Connor ripped a one-timer from the right circle that Jones stopped, but the rebound sat in the crease for Blake Wheeler to bang home.
The tying goal came with under four seconds to play. After that, you just knew things would go Winnipeg’s way in overtime, and they did.
Takeaway #2: “A wasted performance”
Jones continued his red-hot stretch of play that dates back to Oct. 29. He deserved another ‘W’ on his record Sunday, stopping 28 shots along the way, but his mates made some bone-headed decisions that made things unnecessarily tough on their netminder.
“Jonesy was unbelievable,” Brandon Tanev said. “He made some great saves for us and kept us in the game, and obviously, he played great. We want to have a better result for him next time.”
Jones’s best save of the game—and maybe the season—came late in the second period. Scheifele shoveled a shot into his pads, and Dubois pried it loose. Dubois then had what appeared to be an easy tap-in, but Jones fired out his left pad and somehow robbed Dubois on the goal line.
“Kind of a pass out and a rebound, and they were just kind of banging away,” Jones said. “I was kind of sliding out of the net, and just threw my leg back there and got a piece.”
That save was memorable, but Jones saved the Kraken’s calamari repeatedly, especially in the second period when he stopped 16 of 17 shots.
“We wasted a good performance there,” Hakstol said. “His performance was good enough to get two points.”
Takeaway #3: Some different looks for Seattle
Seattle came in with a modified lineup Saturday, as Hakstol shuffled his top three left wings, subbed Karson Kuhlman in for Daniel Sprong, and gave Gustav Olofsson his first NHL action since Dec. 3, 2019.
Hakstol explained at morning skate Sunday that the adjustments to the forward lines was an attempt to find a spark after the Kraken came up empty against Minnesota. Asked about his impressions of the new look after the game, Hakstol said, “We didn’t see much of it. We had nearly 20 minutes in specialty teams tonight, so we really didn’t get into any type of flow throughout the entire hockey game.”
So, the jury is out on if he likes this new mix.
As part of the shakeup, Oliver Bjorkstrand was moved to the third line with Tanev and Yanni Gourde. Bjorkstrand scored in Seattle’s first game of the year in Anaheim but hasn’t found the back of the net since.
“Bjorky had a couple of real good looks tonight,” Hakstol said. “Once one goes in him, things are gonna start going his way.”
Bjorkstrand did assist on Tanev’s go-ahead goal in the third period and hit a post late in the first.