A slow start, a bad goal, and three bad minutes of hockey in the second period were all it took for the Kraken to get zapped out of Tampa Bay by the Lightning in lopsided fashion.
Tampa Bay’s stars were all shining at Amalie Arena, and after Seattle showed some bite to get back in the game in the second half of the first period and beginning of the second, a tough goal against got things rolling in the wrong direction for the Kraken.
In the end, the Lightning showed why they’re one of the NHL’s best teams, blowing out the Kraken 6-2. Here are our Three Takeaways from a painful loss.
Takeaway #1: You can’t start like that against Tampa Bay
The Kraken came out looking flat as a pancake against the Lightning, who coincidentally came out flying after cruising through their previous two games. By the 7:24 mark of the first period, the Bolts already had a 2-0 lead, and Seattle was chasing.
The Kraken hardly got the puck out of their defensive zone for the opening 10 minutes, and it was no surprise to see pucks end up in the back of Seattle’s net. Ian Cole got things started with a shot through traffic at 1:31. Six minutes later, Brayden Point drove to the slot and drew four Seattle defenders to him before making a hard cut to his right and sliding it to an open Erik Cernak. Cernak rifled it past Grubauer to make it 2-0 and put Tampa Bay in the driver’s seat.
Coach Dave Hakstol had more positive things to say about this one than we might have expected after a 6-2 thumping, but he too didn’t like the start. “It’s just the first 10 minutes, really, that was the biggest piece,” he said. “Our forecheck has to be better, we were a little bit slow on everything, and they’re gonna take advantage of that in a big way.”
As a visiting team facing an elite club like the Bolts, you have to come out and bring your best from the opening face-off. If the home team pushes hard in those first few minutes, you have to weather the storm and play near-perfect defense until things calm down in the arena.
Seattle was far from perfect in those first few minutes, and in the blink of an eye, it faced an uphill climb that got steeper as the game went on.
Takeaway #2: A bad goal derails a good PK
The Kraken entered the second period trailing 2-1. By the midway point of the frame, they looked ready to level the score and turn this game into a dogfight. After several good chances in a row for Seattle, the Bolts were hemmed in their zone. But with the forecheck humming, Brandon Tanev inadvertently tripped former Kraken Haydn Fleury 200 feet from Seattle’s net, something coaches always love to see.
With Tanev in the box, the Kraken had an outstanding penalty kill going and hadn’t allowed the Lightning to get their lethal power play set up for almost the entirety of the two minutes. With just a few seconds left before Tanev was due to be released, Corey Perry rushed into the Kraken zone and took a bad shot right into Vince Dunn. The blocked shot went back to Perry, and a seemingly harmless follow-up shot somehow beat Philipp Grubauer to the short side, a goal the Kraken netminder surely would have wanted back.
“We had one hell of a penalty kill in terms of our effort and execution,” Hakstol said. “When that third goal went in, that took a lot out of us.”
Going into that PK, the Kraken had all the momentum. If they had closed that out, it sure seemed like it would be just a matter of time before they got another one past Andrei Vasilevskiy. Instead, a stinky goal quickly tilted the ice back in Tampa Bay’s favor, and it was all downhill from there.
Takeaway #3: That escalated quickly
The uninspiring power-play goal against was just the start of a painful stretch for Seattle in the second period.
Point followed that up by demonstrating why he’s one of the best players in the world. With speed through the neutral zone, Point took a pass from Nikita Kucherov and stickhandled through Andre Burakovsky, Vince Dunn, and Adam Larsson, before going against the grain to beat Grubauer on a highlight reel goal.
That tally sent the Seattle goalie to the bench after four goals on 20 shots.
“We needed a little bit better on the second goal from Grubi, and we needed a little bit better on the third,” Hakstol said.
Tampa Bay didn’t stop there, as Ross Colton was left alone to tip a Mikhail Sergachev shot past Martin Jones. The Colton goal was Tampa Bay’s third in 3:23 and put the game out of reach at 5-1.
“That was a big momentum swing for them, and I thought probably 40 minutes of the game we worked hard,” said Jaden Schwartz. “Probably didn’t get to the inside enough in the offensive zone, but yeah that momentum swing in the second period hurt us.”
The Tampa Bay Lightning are consistently a top team in the league for a reason, and to compete with a club like that, you have to bring your absolute best. Seattle had good moments Tuesday, but it started late, had a huge letdown in the middle of the game, and did not get very good goaltending. Mistakes compound quickly against a team like that, and that’s exactly what happened in this one.
Hakstol thought the team deserved better than the score indicated after that second period, but still, it was a bad letdown that allowed the game to get out of hand.
Unfortunately, the Kraken will next face one of the other teams that ran them out of the building earlier this season, the Carolina Hurricanes. Here’s hoping Seattle gets a better start for that one and can salvage a split on this road trip.