Moral victories aren’t exactly the thing Kraken center Morgan Geekie’s team has been looking for with its debut season now nearly a third of the way complete.
But they’ll take the point earned in Saturday night’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets given how they’d yielded a pair of crushing goals late in the second period right after finally snapping their own scoring slump equating to more than two full hockey games. Geekie scored the second of three third period goals by the Kraken to overcome a 4-1 deficit, secure the point and send the game to a three-on-three sudden death session.
“I think we did a good job battling back,” said Geekie, who went in alone and beat Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins just 22 seconds after an early third-period goal by Jaden Schwartz got the Kraken back in the game. “We didn’t have a good start that we wanted, but I think it speaks a lot to the caliber of our group that we were able to battle back.”
Jake Bean notched the winner for Columbus just 55 seconds into the overtime, moving into the right circle and beating Philipp Grubauer from close range. Bean was traded to Columbus by Carolina shortly after the expansion draft when it had been thought the Kraken might select the defenseman from the Hurricanes instead of Geekie.
Vince Dunn had scored the tying marker for the Kraken on a wristshot that beat goalie Merzlikins from the left circle with 4:04 remaining in regulation to ignite the crowd of 17,151 at Climate Pledge Arena. For a while, it appeared the Kraken were headed toward a third consecutive regulation defeat at home.
The third-period outburst by Kraken seemed even more unlikely given they’d struggled for goals all week before learning earlier in the day that top center Yanni Gourde had been placed in COVID-19 protocol.
The absence of centers Gourde and Riley Sheahan, also placed in protocol along with assistant coach Jay Leach, further hampered a Kraken team that hadn’t scored since early in the second period of Monday night’s defeat against Pittsburgh.
They’d fallen behind 2-0 in the second period and saw their scoreless stretch extend just beyond the 130-minute mark when Jared McCann finally chipped home a puck with 6:08 to go in the middle frame to get his team on the board. But it soon all seemed for naught as Max Domi scored twice for the Blue Jackets in short order right at the period’s end.
The second of those goals, with 25.4 seconds remaining, came after an initial shot by Oliver Bjorkstrand trickled through Grubauer’s pads. Domi, parked just off the crease, easily tapped the puck home to send the Kraken to intermission down 4-1.
“You’ve got to make Columbus work harder on those but we didn’t do that,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “So, that’s the disappointing part. … We didn’t close out the second period, and on a lot of nights that’s been a strength for us.
“The thing our players can take a lot of pride in is coming out in the third period and playing a very hard period.”
That they did, scoring an early third-period powerplay marker in which Schwartz used his body to redirect a shot by Joonas Donskoi. The Kraken had struggled on the power play in a Thursday loss to Winnipeg, going 0-for-5, and went into this one determined to do better.
Now, with a record of 9-15-3, they’ll head off for a critical road trip against division foes in San Jose and Anaheim.
“At the end of the game, I think this game’s going to help us grow as a team,” Geekie said. “We’ve gotten down a few goals in the first and second periods before, and I think we did a good job of not rolling over and coming out to play and making a game of it. So, we’re going to take the positives away out of it for sure and kind of carry it into our road trip coming up.”
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.