For some reason, this 4-3 Seattle Kraken loss to the Calgary Flames in overtime didn’t sting *quite* as badly as the loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 15. Trying to wrap our heads around why that is, we think it’s because Seattle was coming off a big 60-minute win against the Canucks on Saturday, and this was the fourth consecutive game in which the Kraken earned a point. Plus, this was a one-goal lead instead of the two-goal lead the Kraken held against the Oilers before Evander Kane took them to the woodshed that night.
Perhaps the Kraken have given fans just enough good feelings lately to be more tolerant of late-game slip-ups. Still, victory was again right there for Seattle, but Andrew Mangiapane—the guy who smashed Jared McCann’s face into the ice on Nov. 4—tied it at 15:53 of the third, and Rasmus Andersson won it in overtime.
Worth noting, the Kraken have still never beaten the Flames at home and are now 0-5-1 at Climate Pledge Arena.
Here are our Three Takeaways from a tough 4-3 Kraken overtime loss to the Flames.
Takeaway #1: Grubi down?
Philipp Grubauer didn’t have a great first period, allowing two goals on seven shots, including a Jonathan Huberdeau power-play wrister from beyond the top of the left circle that squeezed under his arm. Joey Daccord took the ice to start the second, and our initial thought was that coach Dave Hakstol had just given Grubi a quick hook because he didn’t seem to be tracking the puck.
But then Grubauer didn’t emerge from the tunnel for a few minutes, and that made it clear his exit from the game was out of necessity.
Hakstol confirmed the departure was due to injury but wouldn’t give any more specifics on what happened, other than saying a couple plays contributed to the goaltender’s injury. We’re thinking one of those may have been the negated goal by Martin Pospisil early in the first, when Pospisil ran over Grubauer. We heard there was a second shot that caused Grubauer to hunch over a bit, but we didn’t notice that one.
In any case, Grubauer stayed on the bench for the remainder of the game, so at first glance, the injury didn’t seem too serious. We shall see.
Daccord played well in relief, stopping the first 16 Calgary shots he faced before Mangiapane tied it. He did overcommit on the overtime goal, which led to Andersson going for the wraparound on the other side, but that was his only real mistake of the game (and to be fair, he recovered in time to make the initial save and got no help on the rebound).
Takeaway #2: Bad, good, bad
Seattle’s puck management was sloppy in the first period, and that led to a 2-1 deficit after 20 minutes. The team came out flying in the second period, though, and tilted the ice as much as we’ve seen all season, firing 17 pucks at Dan Vladar, scoring twice, and grabbing 80 percent of the shot quality in the frame.
Jordan Eberle tied it 2-2 for Seattle at 8:21 of the second with a backhander that somehow squeezed through the pads of Vladar. Then Jared McCann gave the Kraken a 3-2 lead at 10:25 with a great tip of an Adam Larsson shot out of the air.
The Kraken needed to get at least one more in that period. They were cooking, and the Flames were on their heels, but Seattle couldn’t get another one by Vladar and took a tenuous 3-2 lead to the third period.
As we’ve seen repeatedly this season, the Kraken got way too defensive in the third, letting the play come to them instead of keeping their foot on the gas pedal. The tables turned once again, and now Calgary was in the driver’s seat, peppering Daccord with 16 shots in the final 20. With the way the game was going at that point, everyone in the building knew the tying goal was coming.
“We played gritty,” McCann said. “But we’ve got to learn from our mistakes here and learn how to finish games off.”
We still can’t explain Seattle’s struggles at maintaining leads this season, other than there’s an obvious shift to defensive hockey once the team gets ahead. We don’t think this is an intentional change in tactics, but once the momentum shifts, they aren’t finding ways to get it back.
The good thing here is that as fixable trends have appeared for this team over the past two seasons, Hakstol and his staff have typically found ways to fix them. Protecting leads is an issue that’s continuously costing the Kraken standings points, so here’s hoping they can figure this one out.
Takeaway #3: Kraken in a “playoff” spot
There’s an old theory that Thanksgiving is an important marker for NHL teams, because statistically, those in playoff spots at the holiday make the postseason more often than not. Well, if the Kraken can beat the lowly 3-14-1 Sharks on Wednesday, they will officially be in a playoff spot on Thanksgiving, no matter what happens with other teams in the Western Conference.
There’s some voodoo accounting happening to get them into said spot, because as of the writing of this story, they’ve played two more games than the Ducks, Coyotes, and Flames, and those three teams are all within two points of Seattle.
Still, being this close should bring a small sigh of relief for Kraken fans. With the way the team started its season, this position by Thanksgiving seemed farfetched just a few weeks ago. Things continue to trend in the right direction, even if the results in games continue to be maddening at times.