Jets best Kraken 3-2 in shootout after scoreless overtime period

One of the criticisms that hockey detractors have of the sport is that a lot of the goals come off scrambles, bouncing off a player’s rear end into the net. That’s not true, but last night’s game between the Seattle Kraken and the Winnipeg Jets saw two goals ricochet off the skate of a defending player (there was almost a third goal scored in the same manner) into the net. But it was still an entertaining contest that saw the hometown Jets win a shootout, 3-2, after a scoreless five-minute overtime.

The Kraken (30-18-6) pick up one point in the standings, due to the regulation tie, and thanks to the efforts of goalie Philipp Grubauer, who stopped 38 shots. Since being pulled four minutes into the Kraken’s game against Edmonton on Dec. 30, Grubauer has played his best hockey since being signed to a six-year contract by the Kraken before the start of last season.

Seattle resides in third place of the Pacific Division, one point behind the Los Angeles Kings and two points behind the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights. The Jets are now 34-19-1, and picked up one point in the standings on the Central Division leading Dallas Stars, who lost in overtime to the Boston Bruins, last night.

“That’s how you win points on the road, good goaltending and the special teams battled, doing the little things,” said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol. “Grubi was a big part of that.”

“He (Grubauer) kept us in the game,” said the Kraken’s Morgan Geekie, who grew up just outside of Winnipeg in Straithcarn, Manitoba. “There’s multiple saves, I can’t just pick one. He’s been awesome for us. Both our goalies have been great. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it done for him tonight. I think we’ve got to work on scoring some more goals when he’s in there.”

Geekie, playing in front of several family members and friends (including his brother Conor, a first-round draft choice of the Arizona Coyotes, and currently a member of the Winnipeg Ice from the Western Hockey League) set up linemate John Hayden for the Kraken’s opening goal in the second period. Geekie hit Hayden with a perfect pass, that he was able to tip-in from the right side of the net. It was Hayden’s second goal as a member of the Kraken coming on his 28th birthday. Hayden was in the lineup replacing Andre Burakovsky, who’s currently sidelined, `week to week,’ with a lower body injury.

That tied the game at 1-1 as Blake Wheeler opened the scoring for Winnipeg earlier in the period. Wheeler took a pass from Nikolaj Ehlers standing behind the net, , cut in front of the net and fired home from the slot.

However, the Kraken would take a 2-1 lead to the second intermission thanks to Jared McCann’s 25th goal of the season. With Winnipeg’s Pierre-Luc Dubois in the penalty box, McCann took a pass from defenseman Vince Dunn and his shot deflected off the skate of penalty killer Mason Appleton, who began last season as a member of the Kraken.

Ironically, the Jets would get a similar goal in the third period. Josh Morrissey’s shot on goal was blocked by Dunn, but came over to Dubois who snapped home the tying marker. Morrissey, a leading candidate for the Norris Trophy awarded to the top NHL defenseman, picked up his 45th assist of the season on the play. There was almost a third goal in the game that deflected off the skate of a defender. That came at the tail end of a Kraken penalty kill in the first period. Alex Wennberg’s shot on goal hit the skate of Wheeler but went wide of the net.

Grubauer saved the game (and stole a point in the standings) with a sliding kick save on Wheeler with two minutes remaining. The contest moved into overtime, which wasn’t good news for the Kraken as the Jets had won five games in a row in the extra period (or shootout). Each team had two shots on goal in the three-on-three overtime frame, sending the contest to a deciding shootout.

Grubauer had made two big saves on Mark Scheifele in the game – one in the first period and another in the third- but in the shootout, Scheifele seemed to hold on to the puck forever, finally beating Grubauer to the short side. David Rittich, who got the start with Connor Hellebuyck, the number-one guy, out with an illness, made saves on Jordan Eberle and Ryan Donato. Dubois then won the game with a low shot that slid past Grubauer.

“Tonight, was a hard-fought road game,” said Hakstol. “We’re disappointed not to get two, but that was a real important road point for us.”

The Kraken return to Climate Pledge Arena for the first time since Jan. 28, when they host the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow night. Seattle defeated the Flyers, 4-3, in the City of Brotherly Love on Super Bowl Sunday. The Kraken finish a tough road trip with a 1-3-1 record, good for three points in the standings.

GAME NOTES

  • With Andre Burakovsky sidelined with a lower body injury, forward Jordan Eberle’s the leading scorer on the Kraken with 40 points.  Eberle had a goal and two assists in the Kraken’s previous game against Philadelphia, a 4-3 win. Jared McCann leads the Kraken in goals, notching his 25th last night.
  • Seattle has now outscored its opponents, 187-170 on the season. The Kraken have arguably one of the weaker schedules in the almost two months remaining in the regular season- three games against Arizona, two against San Jose, two against Arizona and one with Chicago- who are record-wise the worst teams in the league. They also have single games with Vancouver, Detroit, Ottawa and Columbus, who probably won’t make the playoffs.
  • The Kraken finish their season series against the Jets, 1-0-2. All three games finished with 3-2 scores. Both Winnipeg victories came in overtime. Pierre-Luc Dubois had an overtime game-winner in a Dec. 18 game between the teams at Climate Pledge Arena. Lifetime, the Kraken are 1-2-2 against the Jets. Seattle is now 5-4 in overtime games this season while Winnipeg stands at a stellar 8-1
  • Coach Rick Bowness begins his first season as Winnipeg Jets but is in his second go-around with the team. However, this incarnation of the Jets is the team formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers. The original Jets that Bowness coached, and started as a team in the World Hockey Association, moved to Phoenix and are currently the Arizona Coyotes. Winnipeg currently stands second in the Central Division, third in the Western Conference after being underachievers last season (39-32-11, and missing the playoffs.). Paul Maurice, current Florida Panthers head coach started last season as Jets’ coach and current Kraken assistant coach Dave Lowry later served as interim coach. Lowry’s son, Adam Lowry, is an alternate captain on the Jets.

SCORING SUMMARY

First Period

No scoring.

Second Period

W- Blake Wheeler (Nikolaj Ehlers) 7:01. S- John Hayden 2 (Morgan Geekie, Jamie Oleksiak) 13:20. S- Jared McCann 25 (Vince Dunn, Eeli Tolvanen) PPG, 19:53.

Third Period

W- Pierre-Luc Dubois (Josh Morrissey, Kyle Connor) 9:39.

Overtime

No scoring.

Shootout

W- Mark Scheifele, score.

S- Jordan Eberle, save.

W- Kyle Connor, save.

S- Ryan Donato, save.

W- Pierre Luc-Dubiois, score.

Shots on Goal- Seattle 29, Winnipeg 40.

Penalty Minutes- Seattle 6, Winnipeg 8.

Referees- Kyle Rehman, Peter MacDougall. Linesmen- Ryan Galloway, Ryan Jackson.

Three Stars- 1. Philipp Grubauer, S. 2. Adam Lowry, W. 3. Josh Morrissey, W.

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