In a game that resembled pond hockey at times, the Seattle Kraken dropped the first game of their four-game road trip to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3.
The team also lost veteran forward Jaden Schwartz to injury early in the third period.
Kraken winger Jared McCann had the first golden chance about three minutes into the first period with a breakaway chance he shot wide. Minutes later Seattle earned the first power play of the game when Chicago D-man Seth Jones dumped Seattle center Matty Beniers away from the puck.
The Kraken failed to click and the Blackhawks gained momentum off the successful kill.
Did they ever. Suddenly the ice tilted the other direction and the Chicago forecheck resembled that of the Kraken when it’s at its best.
Through sustained pressure the Blackhawks scored two goals at even strength 1:29 apart.
Boris Katchouk scored on a rebound prior to Jason Dickinson ripping home a one-timer.
The Kraken earned another power play at the 12:16 mark and had difficulty simply gaining the zone until it was too late. Eventually one shot was tipped wide. That was the biggest threat.
Seattle kept plugging.
You’ll often hear coaches say hockey ‘is a game of mistakes’. The team that takes advantage of more of them usually wins the game. The Kraken cashed in on one with a little more than five minutes remaining in the period. An errant pass by Chicago in the offensive zone ended up in an odd-man rush for Seattle and Beniers potting his own rebound off a shot block by Jones. 2-1.
Soon after, another Kraken power play. With some momentum established Seattle actually created some good chances, but saw the final :50 seconds of the man advantage go away when McCann took a hooking penalty.
On the eventual overlapping Chicago power play the Kraken would tie the game on an Alexander Wennberg shorthanded goal that saw him dipsy-doo his way through some confused coverage in the Chicago zone. It was ugly and pretty at the same time and had Hawks goalie Petr Mrazek pretty ticked off as his teammates.
The “shortie” helped make up for the key stat of the sloppy first period: Seattle 0-for-3 on the power play.
The slop continued and Kraken paid the price. At 4:22 Spokane native Tyler Johnson took advantage of a 2-on-1 and beat Philipp Grubauer short side for a 3-2 Chicago lead. It appeared ‘Grooby’ had trouble getting across the goal-mouth to make the save.
After more back and forth action the Blackhawks would cash in again. This time following a great save by Grubauer, robbing Joey Anderson in the slot, Seattle lost coverage on the ensuing puck battles down low and MacKenzie Entwistle converted a cross-crease pass to put Chicago back up by two at 10:43.
The Kraken put together a series of chances with five minutes remaining and were twice robbed by Mrazek, the biggie being a right pad save on a Jordan Eberle rebound chance.
4-2 Chicago after two periods.
The Kraken looked more like themselves, exercising their forecheck. Head coach Dave Hakstol juggled the lines. Eberle had a good chance or two early. Mrazek was up to the task.
Unfortunately for Seattle, Schwartz left the game early in the period after taking a puck off the side of his right boot. It seemed harmless enough, but he limped off to the dressing room in pain and didn’t return.
The first portion of the period was solid, and coming out of the first TV time-out of the period, the Kraken stepped it up.
The newly re-formed line of Beniers, Eberle, and Tye Kartye capitalized, with the rookie notching a goal at 6:50 on a wrister shortside. 4-3.
Not long after that the Kraken had to kill off a sketchy Justin Schultz slashing penalty and they did so, at one point D-man Adam Larsson saving a goal after the puck had snuck under Grubauer. The “Big Cat” swiped the puck out of the crease.
Seattle earned the chance they needed to even things up; a 5-on-3 man advantage for 57-seconds after Lukas Reichel and Katchouk went off with successive penalties. Needless to say, the Grade-A chances didn’t materialize and Seattle failed to sore.
Shots on goal finished in favor of the Kraken 36-23. Power Plays: Seattle 0-for-5, Chicago 0-for-3 with a Kraken shorthanded goal.
Kraken 3 Stars:
1) Matty Beniers – Goal and assists, 4 shots, and solid two-way game. He’s back.
2) Adam Larsson – Easily munched the most minutes, 24:07 for the game, a hit and two shots. Saved a goal. Had an assist for his 200th career point.
3) Tye Kartye – A goal on four shots. A whirling dervish of energy.