It had been a week of heightened urgency for a Kraken team allowing an abundance of losses to pile up far too quickly in their debut season.
And that urgency showed a bit too much early in Thursday night’s game against the surging Anaheim Ducks, as the Kraken played like a tentative team with skates encased in cement and sticks seized in a white-knuckled death grip. By the time the Kraken finally got their game going in the second period, they were playing catchup the rest of the way in an eventual 7-4 loss that was their third in a row over a six-day stretch.
Troy Terry, Josh Mahura and Kevin Shattenkirk scored second-period goals on an inconsistent Philipp Grubauer and those would keep the Ducks ahead to stay in extending their winning streak to six games – their most since reeling off a franchise-record 11 back in 2015-16. Jared McCann scored his second of the night midway through the final frame to get the Kraken back within one, but Sam Carrick and Troy Terry added empty-net goals late after Grubauer was pulled for an extra attacker.
All night long, the Kraken seemed to play their best when falling behind by two.
Jordan Eberle had gotten the Kraken back to within 4-3 with a goal early in the third period by converting a 2-on-1 pass from Alex Wennberg into the open side past goalie John Gibson.
But Hampus Lindholm would score midway through the frame on a longshot through a screen that eluded Grubauer. McCann would make it a one-goal game barely a minute later, beating Gibson from the slot.
It followed a script played throughout the second period. With each goal allowed by Grubauer that middle frame, the Kraken wasted little time getting back within one again. After Terry’s goal on a long wrist shot, Jaden Schwartz put one by Ducks goalie John Gibson from the left faceoff circle 33 seconds later to get his team on-the board in a 2-1 game.
Mahura restored the two-goal cushion for the visitors with a shot from the left point that found its way through traffic and beat Grubauer high. But that 3-1 lead didn’t last long as just 1:14 later, McCann, fresh off a return from COVID-19 protocol, redirected a Ryan Donato pass in with his skate to once again make it a one-goal game.
The Kraken generated sustained pressure on Gibson and came close to tying it. But the Shattenkirk scored on a snapshot that sneaked under Grubauer’s armpit with just 3:14 to go in the period and sent the teams to intermission in a 4-2 game.
Right before the period ended, Brandon Tanev and goalie Gibson had some heated words and looked as if they might come to blows when the netminder leaned a shoulder into the Kraken forward as he skated on by. The teams had already been feisty after Kraken defenseman Jeremy Lauzon got his elbow up high on Isac Lundestrom and sent him to the ice in a heap.
Ducks forward Max Comtois immediately went after Lauzon, who got the better of him in a brief exchange of punches. Lauzon tried to fire up his team and the crowd by waving his arms as he headed to the penalty box.
But Lauzon later on in the second period had to deal with a much tougher customer in Josh Manson, who dropped his gloves and landed a flurry of punches. Lauzon held his own and managed to score a few blows, eventually falling on top of Manson.
Still, it wouldn’t fire his team up enough to overcome the shaky goaltending. Grubauer had looked far stronger in the opening period after yielding an initial goal by 18-year-old No. 3 overall draft pick Mason McTavish just 4:42 into the contest.
Grubauer blocked the initial Comtois shot, but the rebound went straight to Lundestrom, ho slid the puck over for McTavish to deposit into a vacated net. From there, Grubauer solidified his positioning, cut down angles and kept the score at 1-0 despite the Kraken being outshot 14-4 in the opening frame.
Alas, the strong net play wouldn’t last and the Kraken were forced into catchup mode the rest of the night.
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