In the first of a two-game set, the Seattle Kraken battled the Dallas Stars on even terms before losing in overtime. Monday night the Stars looked like one of the elite teams in the National Hockey League, posting a 5-2 victory over the Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena.
The Central Division leaders cashed in on three power-play goals to post their 37th victory of the year. The Kraken dropped their third consecutive home game, falling to 37-23-7 on the year. With the loss, the Kraken were unable to pick up any points on the rest of the Pacific Division playoff contenders, who were idle last night. Seattle did pick one standings point in their two game set with the Stars, taking Saturday’s game to overtime before dropping a 6-5 decision.
With two wins over the weekend, the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights have a whopping seven-point lead on the third-place Kraken. Seattle trails the second-place Los Angeles Kings by four points. Conversely, the Kraken are eight points (the equivalent of four games) ahead of Calgary and Nashville, the top two teams NOT to qualify for the playoffs.
“(Dallas) moves the puck very well,” said Kraken forward Alex Wennberg. “We just couldn’t get our forecheck going tonight.”
“This is a disappointing loss, especially those swings of momentum,” said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol. “Those eat away at you. We have a day off tomorrow. We’ve been a group that’s been able to turn the page, go back to the next job at hand.”
The momentum changed right at the beginning of the game. The Kraken had the first three shots on goal, but then the Stars came down the ice and scored on their first shot of the game off Martin Jones. Evgeny Dadonov, acquired from the Montreal Canadiens at the trade deadline, scored off his own rebound after taking a pass from 19-year-old rookie Wyatt Johnston.
Dallas captain Jamie Benn made it 2-0 on a power-play goal at 5:34. With Yanni Gourde in the penalty box for slashing, Benn scored off a drop pass from Jason Robertson. Previous to that goal, the Kraken had only allowed one goal on 32 opposing power plays, a streak that went back to Feb. 14.
After those two goals, the Kraken offense started to take over the game. Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger, playing his second straight game against the Kraken, made some big saves off Matty Beniers and defenseman Jaycob Megna, as the Kraken kept the puck in their offensive zone, bringing the `Pride Night’ crowd into the game. Oettinger had 26 saves overall, and has 29 wins on the season, third in the NHL.
Yanni Gourde finally scored at the 15 minute mark off a lead pass from defenseman Vince Dunn, the Kraken’s leading scorer. Jesper Froden set up the play, when he won a battle for the puck and sent a pass back to Dunn at the point.
The Stars would retake a two-goal lead at 3:03 of the second period. Only 23 seconds into Adam Larsson’s penalty, Joe Pavelski tipped home a shot by Benn. The Kraken came back at 13:20 when Eeli Tolvanen redirected a shot by Dunn with Gourde screening in front of the net.
But then Dallas scored a real back-breaking goal. Only 14 seconds after Tolvanen’s score, Johnson scored, tapping the puck home as he was falling to the ice. Any chance of a big third period by the Kraken seemed thwarted after Robertson, the Stars’ leading scorer, fired home a shot from the left circle. That goal seemed to take the starch out of the Kraken as they could only muster three shots in the third period.
“This team has done a great job all year, believing until the end (of games) and most nights we’ve been crawling back,” said Larsson, as he sat quietly at his locker after the game. “But tonight, (Dallas) was the better team”
“We made a mistake on the first (power play goal) and that opened up the inside on the rebound,” said Hakstol. “They found different holes inside. The second goal, we had two players on the same side of the ice. The last one goes off both of our sticks. But bottom line, we’ve got to get the job done.”
Despite the loss, Hakstol remained optimistic. “You don’t change the things that you do. The strength of this group is exactly that, it’s the group. We’ve got to make sure we’re able to turn that page quickly, have a short memory, then have one good practice Wednesday before we go on the road for a really important game in San Jose.”
Besides needing the standing points, when the Kraken take the ice against San Jose on Thursday, they’ll be looking to avenge a 4-0 loss to the lowly Sharks on President’s Day, one of the Kraken’s most listless games of the season. Seattle returns to Climate Pledge on Saturday for a rare matinee game with the Edmonton Oilers. The third-place Kraken lead the Oilers by one point in the standings, as the top three teams in each division automatically make the playoffs.
- The Kraken’s record in the 2023 calendar year ranks third the league in wins (19, tied) and points (41). The team’s 117 goals since Jan. 1 are second most in the league in that time span.
- Kraken leading scorer, defenseman Vince Dunn, extended his point streak to 10 games. He has 12 goals and 43 assists on the year for 55 points. Dunn now has 15 points in the last 10 games with three goals and 12 assists. The point streak is the longest of the season by any NHL defenseman.
- Martin Jones, who played so well when Philipp Grubauer was sidelined with an injury back in December and January, made his first appearance between the pipes since March 2, six games ago. In that contest against the Detroit Red Wings, Jones was pulled in the second period. Defenseman Jaycob Megna, acquired from the San Jose Sharks for a fourth-round draft choice, played his third game for the Kraken. He replaced usually top six defenseman Carson Soucy in the lineup.
- While the Seattle penalty kill has been stellar the last month, the Kraken struggled on the PK early in the season and overall rank 24th among 32 teams.
- Miro Heiskanen, who scored the overtime game winner for Dallas on Saturday, had assists on all three Stars’ power play goals last night.
D- Evgeny Davidov (Wyatt Johnston, Miro Heiskanen) 3:13. D- Jamie Benn (Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski) PPG 5:34. S- Yanni Gourde (Vince Dunn, Jesper Froden) 15:00.
D- Joe Pavelski (Jamie Benn, Miko Heiskanen) PPG 2:03. S- Eeli Tolvanen (Dunn) 12:38. D- Johnston (Davidoff, Ryan Suter) 13:42.
D- Robertson (Heiskanen, Benn) PPG :40.
Referees- Kyle Rehman, Mike Markovic. Linesmen- James Tobias, Caleb Apperson.
Three Stars- 1. Jamie Benn, D. 2. Miro Heiskanen, D. 3. Vince Dunn, S.