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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Kraken’s stout defense and late-arriving offense does the trick in 3-2 home victory over the Jets

By Geoff Baker Seattle Times

Regaining lost momentum, both at home and overall, was on the minds of Kraken players coming off a tough NHL road trip.

While the visiting Winnipeg Jets were hardly an ideal opponent to beat and get back in the win column, the Kraken overcame a couple of deficits to prevail 3-2 in a Sunday game where they locked down the visitors defensively.

The Jets, outshot 35-17 overall in this late afternoon matinee start, mustered just four shots through nearly the entire first half of the game, generating both their goals on power-play chances.

But the Kraken kept fighting back, tying things in the second on a wicked Jordan Eberle backhander from the left circle with former Kraken forward Karson Kuhlman draped all over him. Then, just 16 seconds into the third period, Ryan Donato got his stick on a Yanni Gourde slapper from the right point and the Kraken were square once again.

Jared McCann then put the Kraken ahead to stay with 3:32 left in regulation, taking a Justin Schultz pass and wristing it high and to the short side on Jets goaltender David Rittich.

Winnipeg had won five consecutive road games, including a tilt the prior night against the Vancouver Canucks. They’d also won seven of 10 overall to keep pace with the Dallas Stars, just a point out of first place in the Central Division.

The Kraken entered this one having lost five of their last six, including three of four on their recent East Coast swing. They’d also dropped their previous two at Climate Pledge Arena to fall to 7-6-2 at home compared to 9-4-1 on the road.

And so, with the team now dragging through its first prolonged slump of the season, it behooved coach Dave Hakstol’s group to start boosting its home mark any way it could. They nearly broke through right away in the opening frame, with Rittich out of position and Alex Wennberg staring at an open net.

But Wennberg’s stick was lifted just as he tried to snag a loose puck and the Jets managed to escape unscathed. The Kraken weren’t as fortunate when Vince Dunn and Adam Larsson took penalties just 46 seconds apart, leading to a 5-on-3 disadvantage on which the Jets needed just six seconds to capitalize.

Mark Scheifele redirected a Josh Morrissey shot and Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer had no chance to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead at the 8:26 mark of the opening frame.

The Kraken outshot the Jets 8-4 in the period and had a 12-4 edge on them by the time Eberle tied the game a little less than nine minutes into the middle period. Things appeared to be going the Kraken’s way until Will Borgen wound up in the penalty box and the Jets scored just 26 seconds later on a goalmouth tap-in as Pierre-Luc Dubois converted a Kyle Connor pass.

The Jets entered the night a stellar 13-0-0 when leading after two periods of play and the Dubois goal seemed ominous. But the Kraken began the third as aggressively as they’d played most of the first two periods when at even strength and it didn’t take long.

Donato’s re-direction of Gourde’s shot from the point gave him goals in his last three straight games.