The Kraken got the job done against a bad Ducks team Tuesday in what coach Dave Hakstol called a “workmanlike” effort from his squad. That’s a pretty good way to describe that game, which didn’t have great flow or energy from either side.
But, two points are two points, and Seattle ultimately earned a no-doubter of a win against an uninspired opponent that didn’t appear to have much fight left in it.
“You’re gonna have workmanlike games,” said coach Dave Hakstol. “This is one you might have predicted, coming off the road, a couple of late nights on the road trip. You might predict that we were going to have to grind this one out a little bit.”
The victory extended Seattle’s win streak to five games and brought it within two points of the top of the Pacific Division.
Here are our Three Takeaways from a 5-2 Kraken win over the Ducks.
Takeaway #1: Power play creativity
The Kraken scored a nice power-play goal at 8:29 of the third period to put the game out of reach of the mostly disinterested Ducks. On the surface, it looked like a pretty simple pass by Jared McCann through the seam to Eeli Tolvanen for a one-timer, but there’s more to it.
Here’s why the play resonated with us. First, we will give some backstory. Jared McCann scored his 31st goal of the season off the rush midway through the first period Tuesday, firing from the top of the left circle. If you’ve seen any of McCann’s goals this season, there’s a good chance you’ve seen him score from that spot on the ice. So, there’s nothing new about that; the guy just loves shooting from there.
“It just feels good, feels comfortable,” said McCann of that area that is quickly becoming his proverbial office.
With McCann’s office in mind, Seattle’s go-to play with the man advantage is for McCann to loop out near the blue line, get some momentum rolling downhill, receive a pass, and let his dangerous snapshot rip. With McCann being a left shot, it’s the opposite of what a lot of teams do, since he isn’t open for a one-timer. But, one-timers are not where McCann gets most of his success shooting, so the team plays to his strength by letting him skate into a pass and pick his spot.
The only downside is that it is a bit predictable. Opposing teams at this point know McCann is going to start moving downhill and his teammates are going to try to get him the puck.
But that is what made the Tolvanen goal special. McCann used Anaheim’s pre-scout on him to his advantage, and instead of ripping the shot that everybody expected—including all four Ducks penalty killers and goalie John Gibson—McCann instead laid a perfect pass in the wheelhouse for Tolvanen.
“Just get my head up, trying to make the right play,” said McCann. “If the shot’s there, I’m obviously going to take it, but sometimes I feel like I force the shot a little bit too much. You know, Tolly got open for me, and it was a pretty simple play.”
The result was an easy one-time goal into a yawning cage for Tolvanen, his 13th of the season.
Opponents know McCann is a shooter. Seeing him use that knowledge against the Ducks Tuesday was a beautiful thing.
Takeaway #2: Vince Dunn almost lost his head, then he lost his mind
We saw two blown calls that involved Vince Dunn in this game. The first came 4:43 into the game, when Dunn took down Jakob Silfverberg. As Silfverberg was falling to the ice, he caught Dunn with a high stick and made him bleed from the nose. Even though Silfverberg got tripped, he is still supposed to be in control of his stick, so drawing blood should still bring a four-minute penalty. For some reason, the officials only gave him two minutes, which was odd. It clearly didn’t sit well with Dunn, either, as he questioned the matching minors while skating to the box.
Late in the game, Dunn sustained more damage to his face when Max Comtois delivered a high and obviously illegal hit. The refs did not call anything, though replay showed it was a clear hit to the head. Dunn stayed down for a moment before getting up and skating to the bench.
That’s where his wires crossed.
Dunn screamed at the official loudly enough that we could hear it up in the rafters of Climate Pledge Arena. What exactly he said was a topic of hot debate post-game, with interpretations ranging from, “Look at my f***ing face!” to “You’re a f***ing coward!”
Video showed he likely said both, though we’re no lip readers.
Dunn slammed the bench door, smashed his stick against the glass, and eventually spiked his helmet as he stepped into the penalty box.
“He was pissed off, and I get why,” said Hakstol. “It was a little bit late, he held his cool getting off the ice, and then— hey, he snapped on the bench.”
For his outburst, Dunn was given a well-earned unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. After sitting in the box for just a few seconds of game time, he was let out and escorted to the Seattle bench and down the tunnel. We initially thought he had been ejected from the game, but no additional penalty was called. In actuality, Dunn was getting checked for a concussion.
Now, if a concussion spotter is telling the officials that a player needs to leave a game because he sustained a hit to the head, and the referees did not call said hit to the head, that’s a pretty good indication they may have missed the call.
“I’d love to comment, but that’s not my job to say that,” said Brandon Tanev of the elevated emotions late in the game. “The refs didn’t make the call, and that’s the way it goes sometimes, so we’ll just leave it at that.”
In any case, Dunn did not return, but there wasn’t much time left in the game when this all transpired. Hakstol said after the game he didn’t have any reason to believe Dunn is injured, but he did confirm the reason for his exit was a “call from up top.”
Takeaway #3: Taking care of business
We were nervous about Seattle’s chances coming into this game, as it felt trappy for a couple different reasons. One such reason was that the first game after a road trip is always tricky, as we saw when the Kraken returned to CPA following their perfect seven-game journey in January. The other reason is that we’ve seen Seattle play down to lesser opponents before, with the 4-0 loss in San Jose on Feb. 20 as a shining example. Plus, the Ducks had been winning games lately, despite them being well outside of the playoff hunt.
The Kraken didn’t have a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but they did what they had to do and dispatched a bad team. By jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, Anaheim went quietly into the night, save for some brief fireworks by Trevor Zegras.**
**Editor’s note: That goal was absolutely ridiculous. We expect to see that one on highlight reels for a long time.**
It won’t be the most memorable victory of the season, but those are two more enormous points in the standings. The Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights will need to go back to checking their rearview mirrors, because Seattle is suddenly back within two points of both teams and holds a game in hand over the Kings.
“We’re going to have to play well every single night,” said McCann. “Obviously we’re going to be playing some divisional games here soon too, and those are going to matter a lot more.”
It won’t be divisional, but the Kraken will face a tougher test in the Ottawa Senators Thursday, a team desperately trying to keep its playoff hopes alive. Seattle will look to extend its win streak to six games.
Concussions can increase susceptibility to anger. I’m not a medical professional, but it’s possible that Dunn was concussed and that contributed to the emotional outburst afterward. I’m glad that he was asked to go down the tunnel and get checked out. That was the right call.
Interesting theory, and agreed, I’m glad they sent him to get checked out. If I had to guess, I would think the spotter sent him off because of the hit to the head and him not immediately getting back up, rather than because of the outburst. But, I don’t know how that all works… Is anger an immediate symptom of a concussion, or is that something that builds over time? I thought it was the latter, but like you, I’m no medical professional. Thanks for reading and commenting, Mike.