LAS VEGAS — With an off day between a crushing loss in Arizona and a return to the ice here, the Kraken had a couple different outlooks Monday.
One was to put the loss behind them. It’s one of 82 games, it’s still November, and those games happen.
The other outlook pressed a little deeper: The problems that again arose against the then-winless Coyotes need to be addressed.
“It’s just not consistent enough,” said forward Joonas Donskoi, still seeking his first goal of the season. “We played a tough game, so we have to get consistent here. But everybody is getting more comfortable. … We’ve played some good hockey, we know we have everything we need in this locker room, and we can beat any team. So we need to start playing that game every night.”
The 5-4 loss — devastating after it appeared the Kraken were on the verge of avoiding it when Mark Giordano tied the score late, only for Arizona to regain the lead seconds later — was a microcosm of the Kraken at their worst. They blew a lead; they allowed some goals that were stoppable; the power play did nothing; they lapsed defensively; they controlled possession but gave up five goals.
In some ways that made it a wake-up call, especially as the Kraken schedule gets more challenging.
“It’s not the kind of opportunity that we want (to address concerns), but it’s the reality of our situation,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “We just have an honest approach. I don’t know whether it’s a positive … but having an honest approach to it as a group is the most important, and that’s what we’ve done the last 48 hours.”
The Kraken led 2-0 in the first minute, one of just a handful of times they’ve opened a game with a lead. If you squint, perhaps that’s a positive to take from the game.
It was the third time they had lost a third-period lead, including twice on the road. Seattle has just one road win all season, at Nashville in the second game.
Tuesday night’s game against Vegas might present an opportunity. The Golden Knights are mired in injuries and have struggled since facing the Kraken on opening night.
“We haven’t had the best road record,” Kraken defender Haydn Fleury said. “That start for us (in Arizona) was huge. We did have a really good start, we jumped on them early, and then it didn’t go our way the rest of the way.”
There are still a few concerning trends: Seattle is 2-3-1 when scoring first, like it did in Arizona. The Kraken are third in the NHL in shots missing the net, and are one of five teams to not have a tipped shot on goal all season.
Despite that, the Kraken have dominated in possession, even with the goals not following. The four goals Saturday were one shy of their season high. But the five allowed burned them.
One thing Hakstol doesn’t think has been missing is intensity, and he believes the players recognize the task in front of them.
“The urgency of our team has been excellent,” he said after practice Monday at the Golden Knights’ practice facility. “We played very hard and just slipped in a couple of areas the other night, and we know that and we’re gonna own that. … In some respects we’ve dominated parts of these games but weren’t complete, so it’s just that realization of how complete we have to be on a nightly basis.”
Monday’s practice was up-tempo, with all player skating except Ryan Donato, who was injured in the first period in Arizona and didn’t return. Marcus Johansson, on injured reserve since after the first game, and Colin Blackwell, who has practiced just three times, participated in full, though Hakstol wouldn’t commit to a timeline for either of them to play.
He also didn’t commit to which goalie would face the Golden Knights. Backup Chris Driedger, who went on injured reserve after his lone relief appearance in Philadelphia in the fourth game, has yet to start a game. Philipp Grubauer surrendered five goals for the first time since a loss to the Flyers. He allowed five goals just three times last season with Colorado.
Fleury said the team had a video session before practice Monday and is looking ahead to the Golden Knights. Tuesday’s game is the second matchup between both recent expansion teams.
“I think you forget about it and keep moving forward,” he said. “It’s a long season, not all games are going to be perfect. You don’t want it to be a trend or something like that, but I think you put your best foot forward today and handle tomorrow.”