Kraken defenseman Carson Soucy and teammates were talking plenty this week about their recent losing streak finally ending because of a willingness to keep pushing back when adversity struck.
And on Thursday night that pushback, in the form of scratching, clawing and literally shoving opponents off the puck, again helped the Kraken after they’d yielded a goal just 38 seconds in and barely avoided giving up a second. It would be Soucy keying the eventual 3-2 comeback win over the San Jose Sharks with a pair of second-period goals minutes apart that ultimately transformed a contest his team appeared to want no part of in the early going.
“I think we just looked at ourselves and said ‘That’s unacceptable as a team,’ ” Soucy said of a first period in which a hit goal post by the Sharks and solid work by goalie Philipp Grubauer were the only things keeping the deficit from being two or three. “So there wasn’t much said in the locker room after a period like that. But I think the right things were said. And like I said, it was unacceptable for everybody.”
The two goals by Soucy, giving him a team-high six among defenders, came as part of a Kraken onslaught seemingly out of nowhere that suddenly had the Sharks hanging on for dear life. Calle Jarnkrok added an insurance marker at 6:27 of the third period, the 100th goal of his NHL career, one-timing a Morgan Geekie pass to the high slot.
Jarnkrok’s tally was badly needed, as the Sharks drew back within one at the 9:37 mark of the third when Timo Maier was left alone in the right faceoff circle for an ensuing wrist shot that became his sixth goal this week. That power-play marker came amid a slew of late Kraken penalties that had the team fending off San Jose the rest of the way.
Mason Appleton took a hooking penalty with 1:07 to go, and the Sharks pulled the goalie for a 6-on-4 advantage. But the Kraken hung on, marking the first time the 12-23-4 team has notched consecutive wins since late November when they defeated Florida and Buffalo.
Soucy felt the team definitely got more physical as the second period progressed. But not before San Jose nearly added to their lead with a flurry of close-in chances, highlighted by a breakaway for Maier, who made headlines this week by scoring a franchise-record five goals in a win over the Los Angeles Kings.
But Grubauer whipped out his glove and snagged a Maier wrist shot before it could find the net.
Moments later, the momentum began swinging. Soucy took a pass from Mark Giordano in the right faceoff circle and fired a wrist shot through a screen with Riley Sheahan creating a jam in front of Sharks goalie Adin Hill.
Soucy said it was no coincidence the Kraken began pumping rubber past Hill in rapid fashion once they laid on the body more and began winning individual puck battles.
“I think we responded well,” he said. “And that’s a big part of moving forward for this group.”
Soucy would score his second of the night minutes later after Alexander Wennberg forced a turnover in the offensive zone. With the puck lying loose, Soucy corralled it and unleashed a wrist shot through traffic that beat Hill to put the Kraken ahead 2-1.
Between the two Soucy tallies, Ryan Donato also appeared to score another rebound goal, only to have it waved off when video review determined the play offside. Then Giordano hit the post cleanly from the point a few minutes later.
“Guys are definitely sometimes not mentally or physically engaged at the beginning of the game,” Donato said. “Finishing a couple of checks definitely gets you right back into the game.”
Kraken coach Dave Hakstol agreed that his team left plenty to be desired with its effort the opening 20 minutes. It began with a defensive-zone turnover by Wennberg in the opening minute that led to Tomas Hertl depositing the puck into a vacated right side of the net to open the scoring.
And it continued as the period wore on with Erik Karlsson taking a pinpoint pass at the goal mouth but having his shot hit the post with Grubauer down and out. Hakstol also wasn’t pleased with poor dump-in plays by his forwards that prevented the kind of forechecking he’d wanted to open with.
“We sleepwalked through the first period,” he said. “And it’s a credit to our guys that we were able to work our way back into this game.”
Hakstol felt Grubauer’s early stops in the second — particularly on Maier’s breakaway — “were huge points” and allowed his team a chance to break the scoring ice and get back in it.
Geekie’s work behind the net ahead of passing it out to Jarnkrok for the eventual winner typified the team’s effort down the stretch.
“You’ve got to find ways to win,” Hakstol said. “We had a complete, 65-minute win a couple of nights ago. Tonight we found a way. We scratched and clawed, and we did a bunch of little things.”