The Kraken had the Central Division’s top team, the Dallas Stars, against the ropes Saturday but failed to land the knockout blow. Instead, a mad scramble in the waning minutes produced a late tying goal for Dallas, and Seattle coughed up a point in the standings by losing in overtime.
“That’s a team that’s hot, right?” said Ryan Donato, who returned from being a healthy scratch and scored a crucial tying goal midway through the third. “They do a lot of good things, but I thought we did too. Obviously, I think we can hang with those guys.”
There was a lot to like in this one, including the patience Seattle showed against goalie Jake Oettinger, who looked for a while like he was going to stop everything thrown at him. Plus, the point Seattle did earn was a big one, as Los Angeles also lost in a shootout and Edmonton lost in regulation.
Still, it was another chance for a win that slipped away late. Here are our Three Takeaways from a 4-3 Kraken overtime loss to the Stars.
Takeaway #1: Another disappointing finish
On Thursday against Ottawa, the Kraken took a 4-3 lead early in the third period, but gave it right back and eventually lost in regulation on a late game-winning goal. A similar story played out Saturday, as the Kraken had their game against the Stars even more in the bag, only to come away with an overtime loss.
This time, the Kraken put themselves in prime position to earn two points after Oliver Bjorkstrand gave them their first lead of the game at 16:35 of the third period. You knew the Stars were going to push back with their goalie pulled, though, and after an extended chaotic scramble in front of Philipp Grubauer, Joe Pavelski finally lofted a shot from a bad angle over the Seattle netminder’s outstretched pad.
The tying goal came with just 1:10 left on the clock.
“[It was] a scramble in front of the net,” said Vince Dunn. “They know how to make elite plays, and that’s what they did. When things were scrambly, they looked for the extra pass. It’s really disappointing to not get the win there, but we fought a good fight to the end, yeah, it’s an important point.”
Added coach Dave Hakstol, “We had the pressure that we wanted. We weren’t able to finish the play. They got it out of the pressure, and they made the play.” Hakstol also pointed out that moments before the goal, Seattle’s defenders had the puck pinned on the halfwall, but they failed to clear the puck out of the zone.
The overtime period was also disappointing for a whole series of reasons, but we will talk more about that in Takeaway #2. What’s most troublesome about this game is that Seattle does seem—at least anecdotally—to have a hard time in that six-on-five scenario late in games.
The group that was out there did everything it could to keep Dallas at bay, including both Will Borgen and Jamie Oleksiak standing side-by-side on the goal line behind a stickless Grubauer. But when things went awry, the skaters collapsed around their crease too much, and the six Stars had all the time and space they needed to work the puck around and get the look they wanted.
Bottom line, the Kraken need to get better in that six-on-five scenario.
Takeaway #2: Good OT possession, but no OT success this time
The last time Seattle played an overtime—against the Colorado Avalanche—the Kraken had the puck for the entire extra frame, which lasted nearly two minutes, before Yanni Gourde scored a game winner. In Saturday’s game, the Kraken had the puck for even longer, playing keep away from the Stars for almost three minutes.
The possession ended when the Kraken finally found the look they wanted but failed to score on Oettinger. Having worked the puck into the offensive zone, Matty Beniers crossed paths and handed it off to linemate Jordan Eberle. Eberle saw a clear lane to the goal crease and shot, but Oettinger got his arm on the puck and deflected it up into the netting.
On the ensuing offensive-zone face-off, Alex Wennberg lost the draw to Max Domi, and now—finally—the Stars had the puck at the three-minute mark.
Even so, the Kraken almost regained control. Jaden Schwartz stole the puck near Seattle’s blue line, but immediately got outnumbered by Evgenii Dadonov and Miro Heiskanen.
“We had a couple of looks; we didn’t get inside on them,” said Hakstol. “Wenny had the one look from outside, Ebs had one that he maybe could have taken inside a little harder, but he had a look from the outside. He’s pretty confident from that area. And they took a— hey, they made the play.”
With Wennberg drawn in by the possession battle, there was now plenty of space on the far side of the ice. Heiskanen drifted over to that side and waited for an insane saucer pass by Domi that Heiskanen took out of the air for a perfectly placed volley over the shoulder of Grubauer.
“We’ve been a pretty good overtime team, it feels like, as of late,” said Donato. “I think we did all the right things, and sometimes it’s just not going to go your way. They have a lot of good guys that can capitalize on split-second opportunities.”
Takeaway #3: More power-play creativity
In the Three Takeaways after the Kraken win over the Ducks on March 7, we wrote about the creativity shown by Jared McCann to set up Eeli Tolvanen’s power-play goal. We were encouraged by the way the Kraken scored their power-play goal Saturday as well.
As the penalty to Jason Robertson was winding down, Seattle’s unit hadn’t found the look it wanted. The usual setup of McCann, Dunn, and Tolvanen across the top fully rotated around the zone, and suddenly the Stars penalty killers looked confused. Tolvanen—now playing on the opposite side—laid out a pass for Dunn, who one-timed it off the glass.
Tolvanen had a good retrieval, and now Dallas was on the run. With the box formation spread out and the Stars players chasing the puck around, Bjorkstrand found himself with space in the slot. Dunn passed down to Wennberg, who quickly dished it to Bjorkstrand who put it in the back of the net.
All that happened in about 10 seconds of power-play time, but that little shift in formation at the beginning of the sequence was enough to get things rolling for Seattle.
We would like to see more movement like that from the Kraken power play, especially when they aren’t getting the looks they want.
In an interesting quirk in the schedule these same two teams will play each other again Monday at Climate Pledge Arena. It was a fun, playoff-like game Saturday, so we would expect more of the same in the rematch.
All great but the quick answer goals the Kraken are coughing up really bug me. The team still needs work to chase a Cup.