All good things must come to an end and that was the case for the Seattle Kraken in yesterday’s Martin Luther King Day matinee at Climate Pledge Arena. Returning from a record-breaking road trip that saw the Kraken go 7-0, Seattle dropped a 4-1 decision to the surging Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Kraken, who had won eight straight overall, dropped to 26-13-4. Seattle was the last remaining team to lose a game in 2023. Tampa improves to 28-13-1, and have won 13 of their last 17 games. The Lightning are now 4-0 against the Kraken, since Seattle entered the league in 2021.
Forward Nick Paul’s unassisted goal at 6:44 of the third period broke a 1-1 tie. The Lightning then added two empty net goals off the sticks of Brandon Hagel and Victor Hedman to wrap things up. Tampa outshot their hosts, 15-6 in the first period and 31-23 overall.
When the Kraken defeated the Boston Bruins last Thursday, 3-0, to hand the Bruins their first home loss of the season, some of the Boston players hinted that it was a case of fatigue, playing their first home game after a long road trip.
Seattle coach Dave Hakstol didn’t want to use a similar excuse noting, “that’s just part of the NHL schedule. I felt like our group was ready to go. We’re disappointed with the result but that’s a tight hockey game.”
After scoring at will in the first period of their previous game against the Chicago Blackhawks (six opening period goals) the Kraken were constantly hemmed in their own zone. Philipp Grubauer’s goaltending kept the game close as the Kraken netminder was credited with the fourth quality start in his last six games.
“In the first period, our bigger issue was coming out of the zone. In the second period, we didn’t shoot a whole lot of pucks inside,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “They’re a tough team to get inside on — they box you out early, so you’ve got to find a way to get inside and win that race inside early. We did a little bit more of it in the third.”
From a team perspective, I don’t think that’s what we want to give up,” said Grubauer of the slow first period “We did it to Chicago, (Tampa) did it to us. We need to make sure we do it to Edmonton (tonight).”
While Tampa had a territorial advantage, it appeared the Kraken might escape with a scoreless first period. However, the Lightning scored with 1:20 left. The play started when Ryan Donato had trouble handing a pass from Alex Wennberg, who was behind his own net. Ian Cole, who scored the opening goal in the Lightning’s 5-2 win over the Kraken last month, gained control of the disc and passed ahead to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare who scored his second goal of the season.
The second period was more even with the Lightning having a narrow 8-6 advantage on shots. Seattle, which has had problems on the penalty kill this season, held Tampa scoreless on their lone man advantage of the period. But as the team’s were getting back to full strength, Nikita Kucherov found teammate Corey Perry standing to the right of the net. Perry looked to be in prefect position for a tip-in but Grubauer slid across the net to make a pad save. After the game, Grubauer joked that he may have been `a little lucky’ on the play as Perry broke his stick after shooting.
Paul increased the lead to 2-0 at 6:44 of the third, on a play that started with Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn over skating the puck in his own defensive zone. However, Dunn would get that goal back. At 10:44, he took a cross-ice at the blue line from defense partner Adam Larsson. Dunn fired a howitzer that Tampa’s multi-time All-Star goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy never saw, due to the maze of players in front of the net. The puck may have also hit a Tampa defenseman stationed in front of the net.I
It marked seven straight games with at least a point for Dunn, who notched his eighth goal of the season. That’s a team record that ties Dunn with Larssen and Jordan Eberle
“I let the second one get through me,” said Dunn. “It’s a disappointing loss for us. We were on a good run there and we got a little bit away from our game.”
When asked about the team’s slow start after a long road trip, “I don’t think there’s any excuses. We had a whole day yesterday and this morning off. We’re at home and we’re in our beds. There’s no excuse why we came out a little flat.”
The Kraken pulled Grubauer with two minutes remaining in the game. While the Lightning are a veteran team, Brandon Hagel, one of their younger (and faster) players, blew past two Kraken defenders and went in to score an empty netter. Veteran defenseman Victor Hedman also added an empty-netter in the final minute.
The Kraken’s trip home didn’t last very long. Seattle makes a quick trip to Edmonton tonight to face the Oilers for the third time in a month. The Kraken do return to Climate Pledge on Thursday for their first meeting of the year with the New Jersey Devils. That begins a five-game homestand which lasts the remainder of the month and will take the Kraken up to the NHL All-Star break
- For a week in which he posted back-to-back shutouts and three wins, Kraken goaltender Martin Jones was named NHL First Star of the Week. Signed as a free agent in the off-season, Jones ranks third in the league with 21 goalie wins.
- Dunn scored his eighth goal of the season and now has points in seven consecutive games for the first time in his NHL career. He has four goals and 12 assists in his last 13 games, while Larsson has notched points in 11 of his last 14 games. Dunn and Larssen were a +6 in the first period against the Blackhawks, meaning they were on the ice for six of their teams’ even strength goals.-
- While teams can dress only 20 players, they are allowed to carry 23 on their roster. Since Shane Wright left the Kraken, first to play for Team Canada in the World Junior tournament and then a return to junior hockey, the Kraken have carried only 22 players. With forward Jaden Schwartz out of the lineup for the second consecutive game, the Kraken added forward John Hayden to the roster. Hayden, a right winger and center, had 13 goals, 12 assists for 25 points and 49 penalty minutes in 25 games for the Coachella Valley Firebirds of the American Hockey League. Hayden has seen time in the NHL with Chicago, New Jersey, Phoenix and Buffalo.
- Tampa goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy – a former Vezina Trophy winner awarded to the league’s top goalie- is 4-0 against the Kraken and has surrendered only four goals. Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos went into yesterday’s game with 499 career goals. While he didn’t get the landmark 500th, Stamkos had four shots on goal and an assist.
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T- Pierre-Edouard Bellemore (Ian Cole, Corey Perry) 18:40.
T- Nick Paul (unassisted) 6:44. S- Vince Dunn (Adam Larsson) 10:44. T- Brandon Hagel (Alex Killorn, Erik Czernak) empty net, 18:21. T- Viktor Hedman (Hagel, Steven Stamkos) empty net, 19:16.
Shots on Goal- Tampa Bay 31, Seattle 23.
Penalty Minutes- Tampa Bay 6, Seattle 4.
Referees- Francis Charron, Brandon Blandina. Linesman- Trent Knorr, Travis Toomey
Three Stars- 1. Nicolas Paul, 2. Philipp Grubauer, S. 3, Vince Dunn S.