The Kraken lost 6-3 to the Calgary Flames Saturday in an uncharacteristically poor effort. We’ve seen them lose in a lot of ways, but they don’t typically get outhustled, and that seemed to happen for a long stretch against a down-on-its-luck Flames team that had lost six in a row coming in.
Case in point, this play that made it 4-2:
“I feel like maybe they were more desperate than us,” said Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. “I think hungrier, won some battles, and it got away.”
Even through a sloppy middle period, in which the Kraken fired a measly three shots at Flames goalie Dan Vladar, it still felt like Seattle would come out victorious against its struggling opponent. But Noah Hanifin’s power-play goal late in that second period put the game in doubt, and the third period went sideways quickly.
Here are our Three Takeaways from a 6-3 Kraken loss to the Flames.
Takeaway #1: Cheap shot by Mangiapane had big impact
Moments after Vladar made his biggest save of the game, sprawling to rob Alex Wennberg on what looked like a sure goal, Andrew Mangiapane took a cheap shot at Jared McCann. McCann had slid to block Mangiapane’s shot and was lying in a prone position on the puck. Mangiapane inexplicably cross-checked McCann across the back of the neck, smashing the star forward’s face into the ice and drawing blood.
Mangiapane was assessed a five-minute major for cross-checking and a match penalty for intent to injure, removing him from the game.
1:11 into the power play, Oliver Bjorkstrand scored a nearly identical goal to the one he scored Thursday against Nashville, again sniping from the top of the right circle over Vladar’s glove. That gave the Kraken a 1-0 lead with nearly four minutes of power-play time left.
Seattle failed to score for the rest of the major penalty, though, and just 14 seconds after it expired, Martin Pospisil—who had been serving Mangiapane’s penalty—scored on his first NHL shot in his first NHL game after a three-on-two rush.
The goal by Bjorkstrand was nice, but if Seattle could have gotten a second one there, this is probably a different story. Heck, even just keeping Calgary from scoring seconds after the penalty ended may have done the trick.
McCann left the game for a while after the cheap shot, but he did return and played the remainder. We will be curious to see what supplementary discipline comes for Mangiapane.
Also, worth noting, there was no physical response from Seattle after that incident, which is becoming a pattern with this year’s team.
Takeaway #2: Second-period PPG turned the tide
The Kraken had a bad second period by every metric. It isn’t surprising to see Calgary had 70 percent of the shot quality in the frame, especially when you remember that Seattle only shot on goal three times. The share of shot quality would have been tilted even farther in the Flames’ favor, except Tye Kartye had a great look before getting blasted into the boards by Nikita Zadorov.
“We weren’t breaking out clean, we weren’t on the forecheck as a five-man unit,” said Justin Schultz. “Just kind of chasing it a lot in the second, and we couldn’t really recover from that.”
Even so, the Kraken were ahead 2-1 and nearly escaped the period with their lead intact. But Eeli Tolvanen and McCann took back-to-back penalties, giving Calgary 46 seconds of five-on-three time, then another 1:14 at five-on-four. The Kraken came within one second of killing off both penalties, but Hanifin’s shot through traffic squeezed through the wickets on Grubauer to make it 2-2 with just one minute left in the second.
“There’s not one singular turning point,” Hakstol said. “But, I mean the obvious one is we work our way through the five-on-three, and you get towards the end of the PK, but ultimately… that changes the complexion of the entire game and obviously changes what the result of the second period is.”
The ugly second frame carried into the start of the third for Seattle, and Yegor Sharangovich put Calgary ahead with a high tip at 1:33. The Flames never relinquished the lead from there.
Hakstol said, “I didn’t think we got lulled into a trap, I thought we got outhustled in the first 10 minutes of the third period, plain and simple.”
Takeaway #3: Not good enough
These games happen, so we’re trying not to overreact here. The Flames saw an opportunity building in the second period to snap their embarrassing losing streak, and they took advantage of a Kraken team that wasn’t relentless enough.
We saw a few games like this last season when the Kraken had gotten a smidge too comfortable with their position in the standings and let winnable games slip through their tentacles. But they’re also not in a position right now—at 4-6-2 on the season—to be taking any team for granted, especially a Calgary club that has dominated Seattle over three seasons (the Kraken are now 1-7-0 all time against Calgary).
We still think the Kraken are close to going on one of their runs like last season, ripping off a bunch of wins in a row, but this game was a step in the wrong direction. Hopefully it’s a case of two steps forward and one step back, and this loss can motivate the club to now take a bunch of steps forward.