Kraken give the Flames too much air in frustrating 3-2 loss

Photo by Aaron Nelson / fi360 News

Seattle, WA – Coming into this divisional contest just barely above Edmonton and their opponent tonight, the Seattle Kraken were facing a tough homestand before an even tougher month of January. The Kraken looked to snuff out a Calgary team about to play the second game of a back-to-back, but the Flames were able to take advantage of three critical Seattle mistakes. A playoff like atmosphere saw the Kraken play gritty hockey, but ultimately Seattle could not stay out of their own way. With the loss, the Kraken fell to fourth in the Pacific Division.

As has been the primary culprit for Seattle’s struggles during their two-year existence as a franchise in the NHL, the defensive play by the Kraken held them back against Calgary. While it wasn’t a complete defensive meltdown by Seattle, like we’ve seen a few times this month, poorly timed breakdowns wiped away any hard work by the Kraken. It was a tale of two halves of the game, as Seattle mitigated most of Calgary’s offensive chances to shots near and around the blue line but started to breakdown after an ill-timed penalty by Carson Soucy.

Calgary scored quickly on the power play caused by Soucy’s bad penalty, to even things up. It’s a continuation of Seattle’s issue with taking bad and untimely penalties, as well as a running issue for Soucy, who leads the team in penalty minutes taken by a good margin. Calgary’s other two goals were cases of failure to clear the puck and giving the Flames far too much room to operate. The first

Calgary goal of the night was scored by Tyler Toffoli, whose persistent digging for the puck in a scrum was rewarded as Seattle couldn’t clear a rebound. The go-ahead goal, scored by Jonathan Huberdeau, was embarrassing for the Kraken defense. Huberdeau was able to gather a tipped shot from teammate Ramus Andersson, turn around and fire away on net from just a few feet away. The Calgary skater was completely untouched and unbothered, which is simply unacceptable. Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol spoke on his team’s effort to local media, postgame.

“This team puts a lot of pucks to the net. We didn’t give up a lot of opportunities early… we didn’t give up a lot of quality… I’m not worried about the number of shots (that they had). One of the penalties we took was for sure bad… it’s the little things that turn into bigger things. For me, the second half of the game, we didn’t get it deep enough,” Hakstol stated.

Seattle’s offensive chances were generated through grimy, grinding goals scored by those not typically at the top of the stat sheet. As the first period was winding down, Ryan Donato answered Calgary’s first goal of the night with a similar looking score, slamming home a juicy rebound in the crease. Donato continues to prove his worth, scoring his eighth of the year and fifth in the past six games, all while on a “prove it deal. Seattle’s second goal of the night came from Jamie Oleksiak, as the “Big Rig” rumbled through traffic and snuck a sizzling shot through a Calgary defensemen’s legs and just a hair underneath goaltender Dan Vladar’s stick. Oleksiak spoke about his teams effort, postgame.

“It’s a Frustrating loss, I think we worked hard. They capitalized on their chances. Coming out of the Christmas break, we gotta work on the kinks, and try to bounce back Friday,” Oleksiak said.

Seattle will have a day of practice before another divisional matchup, when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, December 30th. Just as this matchup against Calgary was, the contest versus Edmonton plays a role in the Kraken divisional standing as the Oilers are just one point below Seattle. Puck drop is at 7PM PST inside of Climate Pledge Arena, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+/HULU.