For the Seattle Kraken, yesterday afternoon’s President’s Day matinee game against the San Jose Sharks had all the makings of a `trap’ game. In fact, the game could be used as a textbook definition of a trap game- a team perhaps looking forward to their next game and losing to an inferior opponent..
Consider this: the Sharks are mired in seventh place in the Pacific Division and the Kraken scored eight goals against San Jose in their first meeting of the year. Plus, the Sharks were missing their leading scorer, Timo Meier, who tallied a hat trick in the Krakens’ s 8-5 loss to the Sharks on Nov. 23. The Kraken is also 35 points ahead of the Sharks in the standings. Plus, the Kraken have a huge game on Thursday night when they host the Boston Bruins at Climate Pledge Arena. The Bruins, became the quickest team in NHL history to reach 90 points in the regular season yesterday afternoon, and the Kraken are the only team to defeat the Bruins at home in regulation time.
However, as someone once said ,games aren’t played on paper, and the Sharks would rise to the occasion and post a 4-0 victory. James Reimer recorded the shutout, stopping 24 shots. The Kraken were shutout for the third time this season and the Sharks won their first home game in regulation time against a Pacific Division team for the first time this season. Reimer was particularly strong in the opening minutes of the third period when the Kraken appeared to finally get their legs going. The 34-year-old Reimer posted his second shutout of the season and 27th of his NHL career over 462 regular-season games.
“They were quicker and harder on the puck,” said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol. “I can use a lot of different adjectives to talk about it, but they worked at a level that they were winning and dictating those battles. We got our asses kicked tonight,”
The Kraken (32-19-6) also missed a golden opportunity to pick up points on the rest of the Pacific Division. A victory would have moved Seattle into a tie for first place with the Vegas Golden Knights and one point ahead of the second place Los Angeles Kings. Seattle also would have picked up two points on fourth place Edmonton, which would have put the Kraken five points ahead of the Oilers. The top three finishers in each division automatically make the playoffs.
It appeared early on that yesterday’s game wouldn’t be a repeat of the Kraken-Sharks shootout of last November, the night before Thanksgiving. Whether it was solid defense or the early start time making both teams sluggish, the Kraken and the Sharks combined for only 11 shots (six for the Kraken and five for the Sharks) in a scoreless first period.
The Sharks took the lead at 10:45 of the second period. Seattle’s Yanni Gourde tied up San Jose captain Logan Couture on a faceoff to the right of the Kraken net. Gourde attempted a drop pass to Vince Dunn, but the puck skipped past the Kraken defender and also past goalkeeper Martin Jones and into the net.
“I’m trying to win a faceoff,” said Gourde. “It’s unfortunate, I don’t think Jonesy sees the puck off the faceoff it goes by (Vince Dunn’s) foot. It’s a quick play. Bad luck, bad bounce, but at the end of the day, we iced the puck just before that. There were different plays in the game that trickled down to that.”
San Jose’s next goal wasn’t as `fluky’ but still came off a `gift’ from the Kraken. Along the boards, Dunn attempted to make a pass to the center, but San Jose’s Evgeny Svechnikov stepped into the passing lane and scored the Sharks’ second unassisted goal of the period.
While a two-goal deficit is tough to overcome, the Sharks added a back-breaker before the second intermission. Noah Gregor, who hit the post in the first period, scored off a pass from Svechnikov with only 17.2 seconds remaining in the period.
The Kraken had chances to get back in the game in the third period. First, Daniel Sprong found defenseman Will Borgen in the slot, but Couture sprawled across the ice to thwart McCann’s scoring bid. Moments later, Jordan Eberle hit Jared McCann (fie shots in the game) but Reimer made his biggest save of the game.
It’s a little bit, too late,” said Hakstol of the third period comeback attempt. “In a 3-0 hole, that’s pretty deep to dig out of. Some good opportunities, absolutely. But now you’re under the gun for a lot of things to go right. “
Michael Eyssimont completed the SJ scoring at 10:57 of the third period. San Jose’s Erik Karlsson who’s already won two Norris Trophies awarded to the top NHL defenseman, picked up his second assist.
“We just didn’t skate,” said Gourde in a low-volume voice. “They dictated the pace of the game. We adjusted to them, which should never happen with our group. Our group is good enough that we should impose the pace of the game every single game.”
The Kraken now prepare to face the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. The Bruins have been the best team in the NHL all season and forward David Pastrnak, who scored his 40th goal of the season against Ottawa yesterday, is the leading MVP candidate in the league.
- For the second consecutive game, the fathers and mentors of Kraken players were in attendance. The dads were in Seattle on Saturday night for the Kraken’s win against the Detroit Red Wings and traveled with the team to San Jose.
- The Kraken set a team scoring record against San Jose in their Nov. 23 contest, won by Seattle, 8-5. That record lasted less than a week as Seattle defeated the Los Angeles Kings in a memorable shootout, 9-8, on Nov. 29.
- Martin Jones, who went in to yesterday’s contest with 23 wins of the season (23-9-3) played six years for San Jose and was the Sharks’ starting goalie when they made the Stanley Cup Finals in 2016. Jones, who spent the 2021-22 season with the Philadelphia Flyers is still on the Sharks’ payroll.
- Defenseman Jaycob Megna played his second game in a Kraken uniform. Acquired from the Sharks for a fourth-round draft choice, Megna had played one previous game in a Kraken uniform, Feb. 7 against the New York Islanders, a couple of days after the trade was made. Megna replaced Carson Soucy in the Kraken lineup and was paired on the blue line with Justin Schultz. Megna spent most of his time in San Jose this season playing alongside the Sharks’ All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson. While the Sharks have struggled this season, Karlsson is in the running (perhaps the favorite) for the Norris Trophy awarded to the NHL’s top defenseman. Karlsson had two assists in yesterday’s game, the 16th multi-assist game for the veteran defenseman.
- Along with Timo Meier, the Sharks were also missing Thomas Hertl, another of their top scorers, who was a late scratch. Meier’s reportedly on the trading block and teams mentioned for his services are the Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes and the Winnipeg Jets. Meier is 13th in scoring with 31 goals. If he doesn’t re-sign with San Jose, Meier will be a free agent at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season.
SJ- Logan Couture (unassisted) 10:45. SJ- Evgeny Svechnikov (unassisted) 16:08. SJ- Noah Gregor (Svechnikov, Erik Karlsson) 19:42
SJ- Michael Eyssimont (Couture, Karlsson) 10:57
Shots on Goal- Seattle 26, San Jose 23.
Penalty Minutes- Seattle 4, San Jose 4.
Referees- Francis Charon, Mitch Dunning. Linesmen- Derek Nanson, Tyson Baker.
Three Stars- 1. James Riemer, SJ. 2. Evgeny Svechnikov, SJ. 3. Noah Gregor, SJ.
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