VANCOUVER, B.C. — Next time, it will be for real.
The Kraken (4-2-0) closed out its preseason Tuesday with a 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
Defenseman Vince Dunn scored twice and the Kraken netted two power-play tallies.
“I’m feeling good, I think as a team we should be feeling good about that game,” said Dunn. “There’s definitely ways we can make it easier on our goalie so he’s not making as many big saves, but as a team I thought we did a pretty good job tonight.”
It was as close to a projected full lineup as possible, sans Marcus Johansson, as Dave Hakstol and his coaching staff narrow down the final roster ahead of the regular-season opener — and Kraken regular-season debut — in Las Vegas on Oct. 12.
Special teams got a lot of work, with 16 minutes on the man advantage and five penalty kills, a good opportunity to finish situational system implementing in the preseason finale.
“There was a lot tonight,” said Hakstol. “I thought our power play did a good job throughout the night. They were consistent in generating opportunities and able to finish on a couple.”
Philipp Grubauer, who played the entire contest for the first time in the preseason, made 38 stops in a shutout against a Canucks attack that outshot the Kraken 38-25.
“It was a good team effort today,” said Grubauer, who is projected to start as the No. 1 goalie when the regular season begins. “Obviously, different (Canucks) lineups in game one and two (of the preseason), but we competed and didn’t make it easy on them.”
Despite a strong power-play performance later on, the man-advantage unit got off to a rocky start in the first period.
The Kraken had a golden opportunity with an early four-minute power play following a collision between Carson Soucy and Vancouver’s Jason Dickinson. Soucy went to the locker room, but returned near the end of the period. After the game, Hakstol said his temporary exit was league protocol.
Morgan Geekie and Dunn each rang iron and the Kraken got four shots on Thatcher Demko on the man advantage, but the Canucks killed it before immediately taking another minor, which Vancouver also killed.
Finally, on the fourth man advantage of the night, the Kraken struck, and held onto that lead for the rest of the contest.
Dunn set up just below the blue line and after Calle Jarnkrok drew a defender toward him, he passed it off to Dunn, who fired it in under the crossbar for a 1-0 lead 4:31 into the second frame.
Less than three minutes later, he did it again.
Jaden Schwartz secured the zone entry and slid it to Jared McCann, who from the outside of the circle connected with Dunn streaking through the slot. He sniped it past Demko to put the Kraken ahead 2-0.
Dunn’s offensive performance builds off his Saturday night in Kent, when he scored the lone Kraken goal in a 4-1 defeat against Calgary.
“He looks like he’s gaining his skating legs,” said Hakstol. “Just seeing the ice real well, the offensive blue line. Some of that production that he’s had coming from the offensive blue line, he’s moving the puck real well and seeing those shooting lanes. … Breaking us out of the zone, that’s one of his real strong abilities. He’s growing in confidence as camp goes on.”
Dickinson took a boarding penalty late in the second, and once again the Kraken capitalized, once again from the second man-advantage unit.
After a cross-slot pass from Geekie, a Jarnkrok shot surprised Demko, who couldn’t control his rebound. Ryan Donato was at the doorstep to flip it above Demko’s outstretched pad and make it 3-0 Kraken.
“That was a heck of a play,” said Hakstol. “A really good poise-and-presence play for (Donato) to just take a second to settle it and find the top of the net on that rebound.”
Nathan Bastian scored his first preseason goal with 36 seconds left to ice the game.
Hakstol wanted to look at different line combinations Tuesday, with Alexander Wennberg playing between Donato and Joonas Donskoi while Geekie skated with Jarnkrok and Mason Appleton during five-on-five play. Special teams ended up being the primary story, with 18 minutes away from even strength in the first two periods alone.
“That’s a tough game, with the amount of specialty teams,” said Hakstol. “We found a lot of the flow later, but I think there was 20-plus minutes of power play, penalty kill, it was sporadic throughout the game. A lot of positives there, starting with (Grubauer) on the back when I thought they got good looks on their power play. He was on top of that.”
Despite controlling the game on the scoreboard, the Kraken didn’t eclipse double-digit shots in any period.
It was about the quality of chances more than quantity, and that’s a good sign of a team that’s understanding and piecing together the system.
“I thought we were aggressive as a whole,” said Dunn. “We had a pretty good forecheck for the most part, when all five guys are taking part of that and helping create offense, find a way to score goals that aren’t always the prettiest goals, that’s really big for us.”