What a roller coaster of emotions that game was for the Seattle Kraken, as they snuck by the Detroit Red Wings to earn their second win of the season Tuesday. It also put Seattle off on the right foot to start this current four-game road trip, which will now take them to face three teams that were in the playoffs last season in Carolina, Florida, and Tampa Bay.
The Kraken had a two-goal lead heading into the third period, but they let it slip away on three goals from Detroit’s highly lethal power play. Seattle scored a late power-play goal of its own to tie it, then won it in with a hair under 5 ticks left on the overtime clock.
“Obviously that hurt a little bit with the power plays,” Jaden Schwartz said. “But we stayed with it, got back on the hunt, back on the forecheck, continued to work. And it paid off. Wins aren’t coming easy right now, so we’ve got to dig in and play the full 60 is probably the bottom line right now.”
Here are our Three Takeaways from a thrilling 5-4 Kraken overtime win against the Red Wings.
Takeaway #1 (Darren): What a night for Jaden Schwartz
While most Kraken players have struggled to score so far this season, Schwartz has gotten himself off to a pretty solid start. He was outstanding Tuesday, with two goals (including one on the power play), bringing him to four goals in seven games this season.
Schwartz has been something of a fixer of lines for coach Dave Hakstol during his tenure with the Kraken, often moving up and down to help players start producing. That’s because he brings a hard, tenacious style of play, and he’s willing to get into the net-front area; it’s a style that also plays nicely with the manpower advantage.
“Just trying to be competitive in there,” said Schwartz. “Every game is a little bit different. Sometimes you’re fighting for space, sometimes pucks find you.”
One thing that’s been interesting about the way he’s been deployed on the power play, Schwartz is often seen taking draws for his unit, though he isn’t a true center. On the team’s first power-play goal at 5:16 of the second period, he took the draw and partially won it to his left. With the puck contested against the wall, he hustled over to support the board battle. As soon as he saw Matty Beniers pull the puck back to Vince Dunn at the point, Schwartz turned and sprinted to the blue paint.
A missed Dunn pass to Kailer Yamamoto caromed fortuitously off the end wall and right to Schwartz, who got good wood on a backhander to chip it over Ville Husso. That got Seattle level in the game at 1-1.
Schwartz followed that up with just a big, old fashioned clapper off a rush at 17:54 of the second, beating Husso again and giving the Kraken a 2-1 lead.
Schwartz’s biggest play of the game came with time ticking down on Seattle, which had a late power play and a 6-on-4 advantage with goalie Joey Daccord off for an extra skater. Schwartz didn’t get a point for it, but when Jared McCann tied the game with 1:22 left in regulation, it was Schwartz that was right in front of Husso, wreaking havoc.
Oh, and we can’t forget Schwartz also got away with a fairly blatant stick throw to break up a scoring opportunity late in the second period, and Tye Kartye scored soon after that to make it 3-1 Kraken.
Takeaway #2 (John): Special teams were the story
A theme for me in this game was (once again) special teams. The Red Wings power play unit came into the game white hot, with a 39 percent power-play success rate on the season. Meanwhile, the Kraken had one of the top five penalty kill units in the league with a 93.8 percent kill rate.
Something had to give, and it did. Detroit scored three goals on six power-play opportunities with all three goals coming in the third period. It was a tough period for the penalty kill unit who, in my opinion, actually looked solid and played better than the data shows. There were no glaring mistakes on the PK, and the failures on this night looked more like a combination of a lethal Detroit power play unit clicking and no lucky breaks for the Seattle killers. I don’t see a big cause for concern, even though the three goals against did raise eyebrows.
On the other side of the special teams equation is the Kraken power play, which has struggled this season. Objectively, it has been better as of late. Coming into the Detroit game, Seattle had three power-play goals over 12 opportunities in the last four games. That is a 25 percent power-play conversion rate, which would be close to the top 10 in the league if the Kraken did not go zero for six in the first two games of the season.
The Kraken potted two power-play goals against Detroit, including McCann’s dart to tie the game with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Kraken are now 13th in the league with a 21.7 percent conversion rate.
Even so, I still think the Kraken are struggling at getting set up off their offensive-zone entries, so I wanted to check that with data. A proxy I’ve been using for power-play offensive-zone time is shot attempts per two minutes of power-play time.
The Kraken still rank relatively low, but this might not be the best metric, considering Washington is first in this category and has the second-lowest power-play conversion in the league. On the other hand, Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Dallas all rank in the bottom five in power-play conversion rate on the season, so that does align with this metric. It is something we will continue to monitor.
Takeaway #3 (Curtis): After falling behind late, Kraken were resilient
The Kraken very easily could have let this game get away from them at the end of the third period. The pendulum of emotion had swung and swung hard against them. Entering the third with a 3-1 lead, the team saw three consecutive Detroit power-play goals put them at a one-goal disadvantage just over half way through the final period.
“It’s important to get results, and we felt like we played a real good first two periods,” Hakstol said. “And even on specialty teams, we did a nice job in those first two periods. And all of a sudden, it was kind of a wave of power plays. They’ve been rolling on their power play, and they made good on them. So to be able to push back– we’ve done it a couple of times now. We haven’t gotten rattled, we haven’t gone away after giving up a lead, so we did that again tonight.”
Instead of lamenting the calls against them–including a soft holding goal on Alex Wennberg that created the power-play opportunity Detroit used to go ahead–or conceding to their misfortune after a tough opening stretch in which they had lost five of six games, the Kraken got to work.
From 10:26 in the third onward, Seattle outshot Detroit 10-2. The team’s tenacious effort generated two third-period power plays as well. McCann drew the second call and then capitalized on the opportunity himself with a pinpoint wrist shot from the top of the right circle. McCann also set up Jordan Eberle for the game-winning goal with just five seconds left in overtime, after the Kraken again had the puck for most of the five minutes (and got some puck luck with a post hit by Lucas Raymond).
McCann spoke after the game about composure and a consistent mindset as the key to overcoming adversity in the third period: “It was a grind. We stuck with it–didn’t change a thing.”
The team’s goal moving forward is to build on the confidence a win like this can deliver. “We need to play with a little bit more swagger like we had last year, toward the end of the year,” McCann said. “We need to find that.”