That’s the way the cookie crumbles. The Kraken lost 5-1 to the Florida Panthers Saturday, snapping their franchise-record win streak at seven games.
For a while, it felt like this game could end up being a carbon copy of the previous Kraken game against the Capitals, in which Seattle overcame a 2-0 deficit and pulled out a thrilling 3-2 overtime win. Instead, Spencer Knight came up big for the Cats, the Kraken gave up three power-play goals against, and Florida pulled away in the end.
You can’t win ’em all.
Here are our Three Takeaways from Seattle’s first loss since Nov. 13.
Takeaway #1: A penalty for a lost challenge is a terrible rule
Seven minutes into the first period Saturday, Marc Staal collided with Philipp Grubauer and eliminated any chance the Seattle netminder had of getting back in position to make the next save. Carter Verhaeghe scored into a wide-open net.
The rule for goalie interference says contact with the goalie outside the crease is allowed if the player makes an attempt to avoid said contact. This was a lot of contact, though, so we thought it could be overturned. Sure enough, Kraken coach Dave Hakstol challenged, but the call went against Seattle.
“The challenge— there’s two different ways to look at it,” Hakstol said. “I feel like in that case, Philipp didn’t have a chance to do his job. Their look and their ruling at it was different than my viewpoint, but that’s not for me to determine.”
As a result, not only did the goal stand, but the Kraken had to send a player to the penalty box for delay of game. On the ensuing power play, Verhaeghe scored his second goal in 26 seconds.
“Obviously it’s frustrating, but you can’t focus on it,” said Jared McCann of the lost challenge. “We have a lot of veteran guys here who just kind of calm us down and let us play hockey.”
We don’t get that worked up about goalie interference. The rule is confusing, and there are plenty of times that we think it will go one way, only to have the call go the opposite way. You win some, you lose some, it is what it is, yada yada.
What we do get worked up about is the penalty that comes with a lost challenge. Again, we understand why the call went against the Kraken in this case, but if it had gone the other way, that also would have been completely understandable. When a call is truly debatable like that, why should a team be penalized for challenging? It makes no sense.
“That’s part of the game,” Hakstol said. “You gotta make your decision. You got 20 or 30 seconds to look at it, make the best decision possible. In that case, I felt that our goaltender— we needed to stand up for him a little bit. He didn’t have a chance to make that save. The determination on the other side, that’s not up to me.”
Alright, screw it, we’re ranting about the refs now. As long as we’ve gone there, we might as well call out that we thought Vince Dunn getting an extra two minutes for his sparring session with Verhaeghe was bogus. It led to Matthew Tkachuk’s power-play goal at 5:51 of the second period.
We thought it was bogus because 1.) that was a two-person dance in which both players got plenty of shots in, and 2.) Tkachuk unnecessarily involved himself and gave Dunn a good whack after things had calmed between Dunn and Verhaeghe. So how does Dunn end up with four minutes there?
Hakstol called Dunn’s penalty “undisciplined,” and said the goal against—which pushed Florida’s lead to 3-1—was the turning point in the game, so maybe there was something more there from Dunn that we didn’t catch.
Last thing, the refs were in the way a hilarious amount of times Saturday. We know they’re always trying to get out of the way, but they were like extra defenders for Florida at times.
Ok, this rare referee rant has now come to an end.
Takeaway #2: The Kraken penalty kill is a serious issue
We aren’t that far removed from the Kraken going six games without a power-play goal against, a streak that lasted from Oct. 27 to Nov. 13. That stretch made us believe that Seattle had resolved its penalty kill issues from early in the season, but since that streak ended against the Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 13, the Kraken have had a hard time with the manpower disadvantage. In fact, their PK has been downright stinky.
“It’s hard. I mean, a couple— we just can’t catch a break,” said Carson Soucy. “[They’ve been] shooting it wide a couple games in a row now, where it hits one of us or hits one of them and goes in. We’re trying to do the right things. I think it’s going to come around.”
The PK cost the Kraken in a big way Saturday against the Panthers. Our rant in Takeaway #1 about the refs becomes moot if Seattle just kills off the penalties, but that didn’t happen.
In addition to Verhaeghe scoring after the challenge, Tkachuk scored after the aforementioned bogus extra penalty on Dunn, and Gustav Forsling added a third power-play goal for the Cats at 13:03 of the third period. Worth noting, Grubauer probably wanted that one back, being that it was an unscreened blast from the point. Still, it came with the Kraken down a man, something that has happened far too often lately.
“We need to do a little better job in denying our blue line,” said Hakstol. “We need to do a little better job in finding our pressure. There were too many pucks that were going through seams tonight, which not only creates opportunities, but maintains possession. There’s different pieces that simply have to be better.”
Seattle has done a good job at fixing issues this season, but the PK has now dropped to 30th in the league with just a 66.7 percent success rate. That needs to be fixed again.
Takeaway #3: Spencer Knight was a factor, but the Kraken weren’t good enough
The Kraken were going to lose eventually, and there are worse things in the world than dropping one to a talented Florida Panthers team in a game when Spencer Knight is making enormous saves for his team. Hakstol was not happy with the way his team played, though.
“I don’t think there were very many parts of our game that were very good tonight,” Hakstol said. “So, that’s going to be a tough way to win a hockey game.”
Our immediate assessment of the performance was a little more friendly to the Kraken, because despite the bad breaks in the first period, it felt for a while like Seattle was going to get back in it, just like the previous game against Washington.
“I think we were just off a little from the start,” said Soucy. “They capitalized a couple early on the challenge and stuff. We did a good job trying to fight back, had our looks.”
Knight made an enormous save on Matty Beniers in the closing seconds of the first period, where he stretched to his left and just got his toe on what looked like a sure goal. Had Seattle scored there and gone to the room trailing by just one, we think the game would have had a different outcome.
“We had some good looks,” said Soucy. “He made a couple key, timely saves. When we’re trying to fight back, that just kind of drains us. You think you need one of those to go in, and then [they kind of] build the lead, makes it a little more.”
Onto the next win streak!