Seattle, WA – On Martin Luther King Jr Day 2023, the Seattle Kraken saw their historic winning streak end at eight games as the Tampa Bay Lightning spoiled the short homecoming. Following seven games over the course of 13 days and the pedigree of the opposition, Seattle was visibly slower and less explosive compared to the juggernaut we saw on the road trip. All things considered, the Kraken put up a solid fight against a Tampa Bay team that has won two of the last three Stanley Cups, but it was ultimately critical defensive issues that nailed Seattle’s coffin shut. One thing remains apparent for a Kraken team gunning to make a playoff appearance in the second year of their existence: they must find consistency defensively if they want to take things to another level.
Following an eight-game streak that saw Seattle’s attack score four or more goals every outing but one, and eight goals twice, the Kraken simply looked like they ran out of juice against Tampa Bay. Seattle was held to 23 shots today, 11 of those coming in the final period when the Kraken were just trying to fling pucks on net. While playing against Vezina trophy winning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy certainly didn’t help, the Kraken had trouble breaking into Tampa Bay’s offensive zone and could not generate clean looks. The only score of the day for Seattle came off a bomb of a shot from the blue line that deflected off a Lightning defenseman. The scorer of that goal, Vince Dunn, discussed his team’s offensive effort postgame.
“I think we could have been better with our execution out of our zone… I don’t think that there’s any excuse to be honest, we had the whole day yesterday off and this morning… we just came out flat. We can always have more traffic net front, I think that our forwards were doing a good job… when you play good teams like that, you have to find a way to score dirty goals,” Dunn stated.
For most of this contest, the Kraken were able to make up for the occasional error that they made defensively, with effort and active sticks. But two key and untimely mistakes ended up dooming Seattle, as the other two Tampa Bay goals were empty netters with time ticking down. The first notable mistake was by Jamie Oleksiak, who was caught out in no-man’s land as two Lightning skaters had free real estate in the Kraken high danger area. An Ian Cole puck from the blue line in period one was tipped in easily by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who was left wide open as Oleksiak seemed to have forgotten his assignment. The second came a little under seven minutes into the third period, as Vince Dunn turned the puck over to Nicholas Paul right next to the Kraken goal, and Dunn even screened his own goaltender as Paul slotted the puck home. Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol discussed his team’s areas to improve.
“We knew it was gonna be a tight hockey game, first period we didn’t do a good job coming out of the zone… tough puck play in the neutral zone, but we cleaned that up a little bit in the second. We were able to generate a little more offensively in the third. It was a tight hockey game, we’re disappointed in the result and outcome, but it was still a tight hockey game,” Hakstol stated.
Immediately following the loss to the Lightning, the Kraken had to get back on the road as they will play the second game of a home-away back-to-back. Seattle heads to Edmonton for a divisional battle against the Oilers at Rogers Place with a puck drop of 6PM PST. The Kraken will look to get back to their winning ways in another difficult contest, facing off against Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.