DETROIT — A limping, grimacing Ryan Donato, ice bag on his swollen left foot, had a tougher time finding the Kraken’s postgame podium than he had the back of the other team’s net in this one.
And that about summed up a topsy-turvy Wednesday night of momentum swings, turnovers, called-back goals and puck luck for both sides that ended with the Kraken gutting out a tough point in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings. It was a tying third-period goal by Donato with 5:44 to play, his second of the night just minutes after leaving the ice in pain from blocking a shot with his foot, that enabled the Kraken to steal their first such point this season and end their East Coast swing at 2-1-1.
“I think it’s great,” Donato said, between periodic winces, of the first shootout in franchise history. “We definitely battled.”
It wasn’t an easy first visit to an Original Six market, the Kraken missing top point-getter Jaden Schwartz and leading goal-scorer Jordan Eberle because of lower-body injuries suffered in Monday’s win over Buffalo. So they threw some makeshift lines together at Little Caesars Arena, took a while to get them going, then used Donato’s goal on a snap shot from the right circle to send the game to a 3-on-3 overtime.
After a scoreless five-minute overtime session, the best-of-three shootout followed and Joonas Donskoi scored on a somewhat chancy breakaway deke on the Kraken’s third and final try. That tied the session 1-1 and forced a bonus round, where Adam Erne scored for Detroit and Alex Wennberg fired wide for the Kraken to end the game.
Vince Dunn scored the other Kraken goal in regulation to go with Donato’s pair, while Lucas Raymond, Vladislav Namestiknov and Robby Fabbri countered for the Red Wings. Donato’s tying goal came after Raymond had scored a go-ahead marker earlier in the third off a Kraken turnover, firing a turnaround wrist shot that beat Philipp Grubauer.
Donato admitted the team wasn’t entirely satisfied with the point, given some of the timely miscues.
“I think we’re happy we got to a point where we did get a point,” Donato said. “But at the end of the day we should do everything we can to win in regulation and not be happy with not finding total success. I think we could have and we just made a few mistakes.”
Some things, however, did go the Kraken’s way.
Just two minutes after an early Kraken goal was waved off when Mason Appleton was ruled to have bumped into Red Wings goalie Thomas Greiss, Raymond appeared to beat Grubauer short side from a bad angle. But Kraken coach Dave Hakstol got the goal overturned with the first successful challenge in franchise history, arguing the play was offside at the blue line based on a recommendation from team video analysts Tim Ohashi and Brady Morgan.
After the Red Wings scored on the power play early in the second period, the Kraken got a man advantage of their own, and it was Marcus Johansson feeding Dunn with a pass in the high slot. The defenseman fired a perfect wrist shot through a screen to tie the score.
The Kraken then briefly took the lead that frame when Detroit defenseman Jordan Oesterle fell down in his zone. Donskoi pounced on the loose puck, then passed it to Yanni Gourde, who found Donato alone on the left side for an easy shot into a partially vacated net.
“He played great for us,” Gourde said of Donato. “Not only did he score two goals for us, but he won his battles along the wall in the D-zone. In the O-zone you can rely on him to win those 50/50 battles, and he did a tremendous job tonight of doing that.”
Gourde had generated the Kraken’s best overtime chance by winning a puck battle in the offensive zone, outmuscling a defender to the net and nearly jamming it home behind Greiss. He said the team’s mentality hasn’t changed in the absence of Schwartz and Eberle and added that it must battle like it did to pick up critical extra points it missed earlier this season.
“We can do that every single night,” Gourde said. “That should be our standard. We kind of set that up on this road trip. That is the standard for this team. We’re going to go out there and battle every single game, and that’s going to give us a chance to win games and get points.”
Hakstol also liked the competitive level, despite mistakes he’d like to rectify. The Kraken nearly entered the second intermission with the lead but allowed a late goal that tied it 2-2 after Namestiknov got a shot off through traffic and beat a partially screened Grubauer.
Hakstol knows he’ll be down some regulars for a bit and that goaltender Grubauer will handle the bulk of games with Chris Driedger on injured reserve. But he liked the way his players never stopped pushing, especially on Donato’s tying goal.
“It’s maybe one notch on the stat sheet for a shot block but he had a helluva shot block before he scored a goal,” Hakstol said. “And those kinds of things are real important. He’s probably going to need an ice bag or two, but his compete level and his ability to go out and push through and produce at the right time was really good.”
And with top players down, Hakstol said it’s now up to players such as Donato to step up and make more of expanded roles and opportunities.
“We obviously wanted the extra point tonight, so I think we’re all disappointed about that,” he said. “But it’s also a valuable point that we gained. We earned a point tonight. And we did that throughout the road trip.”