EDMONTON, Alberta — The Seattle Kraken has now played 10 games. It’s fair to say there are a few trends.
Monday night in Edmonton, Seattle relived a few early tropes in a 5-2 loss. The Kraken allowed a goal on the first shot of the game for the third time of those 10 games. The Kraken entered the first intermission playing from behind for the fifth time; it has lost every time — all five — it has trailed going into the first intermission. The opponent has scored first in seven of the games.
“It’s frustrating,” Kraken forward Jaden Schwartz said. “(Sunday’s game) was right there for us and so was today. There were opportunities to start and we had a lot of chances, so we just got to find ways to put them in the back of the net.”
It’s early in the season and in the franchise; 10 games out of 82 is just 12.2 percent of the schedule. At 3-6-1, the Kraken has just seven standings points after the first road trip, first homestand and two back-to-backs. At some point, even with the Kraken playing relatively well in these losses, that begins to matter.
Maybe it’s not yet, still being early enough, but it’s deep enough into the schedule to have a sample size to show ways the Kraken can evolve.
Coach Dave Hakstol’s message after the game was simple: Just keep shooting.
“Keep getting good chances,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to turn a little bit of puck luck. Sometimes it’s a fluke, sometimes it’s going right through the blue paint and making sure it goes back to the net. It’s a little bit of everything, but it’s No. 1 making sure we stay with it.”
This time the first goal came from former Hart Trophy winner Leon Draisaitl, who finished the night with four points, on a deflection off his skate from a Tyson Barrie point shot that would have gone wide. It wasn’t a snipe by any means, but it was what put the Kraken behind 1-0 for the seventh time.
“You want to try and score first, but at the same time, you have to find ways to climb back and find ways to come back when you’re down,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz netted his first goal of the season two minutes later, winning a race to the puck with two Oilers defenders and backhanding a shot past Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen in eerily similar fashion to Jordan Eberle’s the night before against the Rangers. Now a 1-1 game, the Oilers’ precise offense didn’t stay silent.
Edmonton entered Monday night working at a ridiculous 47.8 percent rate on the power play, and the Kraken gave them an early chance on a Mark Giordano holding call.
The Oilers power play sunk the Kraken early. In a clinical display of a zone breakout on the man advantage, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins found Zach Hyman who found Draisaitl in one forward motion for a quick strike.
Without leading point getter Jared McCann — in COVID-19 protocol for the second time this season — the Kraken power play (30th in the league entering Monday) struggled in the back-to-back. Seattle didn’t generate at the end of the first or on two chances in the second following the third Edmonton goal, a Duncan Keith tally at the doorstep for his first goal as an Oiler.
The Kraken had a 72.31 percent expected goals for — a stat that calculates what percentage of the goals the Kraken is “expected” to have scored, based on scoring chances — in five-on-five play in the first period but found itself down 2-1. It finished the game at 58 percent. Like in many of the games before, Seattle dominated the possession game and had plenty of high danger chances, but the finish was lacking.
“I think we look at the positives,” defenseman Jamie Oleksiak said. “There’s been a few games that we were right in there, we get the goal at the right time and our record looks completely different. So I think we focus on the positives like the chances that are coming, that’s a good thing.”
Like in nearly every game before, the Kraken played a stronger second period than first. It finished the frame outshooting Edmonton 20-12. Carson Soucy scored his second goal of the season with 80 seconds left in the period, coming in on the high slot off a pass from Nathan Bastian in the lower circle to make it a 3-2 game. Morgan Geekie picked up the second assist, his first point since opening night in Vegas, ending an eight-game drought.
Seattle killed a penalty that carried from the end of the second into the third, but Kyle Turris had room to top a shot past Daccord at 2:57 into the third period to put a comeback bid to bed. That came right after Eberle was denied on a partial breakaway that would have tied the game.
“He battled hard,” Hakstol said of Daccord. “It’s a tough night. You look at the first three goals, there’s two tips there. As you get into the third period as a young guy, the one thing you’d ask is you gotta find a save on one of those last two goals. They’re not bad goals, they’re tough plays.”
Spokane-native and former Spokane Chiefs forward Kailer Yamamoto put the finishing touches on the night with his first goal of the season late in the third.
After the game sounded like a lot of Kraken postgames to open the season. It didn’t fall their way, but they’re one play away from a win. One goal away from a positive result.
There’s some frustration, but for the most part, there’s hope.
“Just continue creating opportunities,” Hakstol said. “Go to work really hard and create those opportunities. … We got to make sure we stick with that, continue creating those chances and keep pushing until some of these start going in for us.”