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Sports >  NHL

Shorthanded Kraken see five-game win streak end against Wild

Nov. 11, 2022 Updated Fri., Nov. 11, 2022 at 10:07 p.m.

By Geoff Baker Seattle Times

SEATTLE – This was obviously going to be a huge Friday night home test for the Kraken once it was confirmed hulking defenseman Jamie Oleksiak would miss at least a couple of games.

Oleksiak’s lower-body injury marked the first time all season the team’s blue-line depth would be tested, forcing them away from the three perfect left-right shot pairings they’d utilized all season. While the Kraken played things tight, it wasn’t enough to avoid a 1-0 loss to a Minnesota Wild squad that threw the body around liberally knowing they wouldn’t have a 6-foot-7, 255-pound Oleksiak to contend with.

Mats Zuccarello opened the scoring for the Wild with just under 2 minutes to go in the opening period, getting free in the slot and unleashing a quick snapper behind Kraken goalie Martin Jones. That goal would stand up for the Wild, who halted the Kraken’s franchise-record five-game win streak in front of 17,151 fans at Climate Pledge Arena and avenged a home shutout defeat against them just eight days prior.

Oliver Bjorkstrand had one of the better Kraken scoring chances all night midway through the third, getting in close down the left side, but his wrist shot was kicked away by Minnesota goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury – who stopped 28 shots for the shutout. Justin Schultz was then set up nicely in the slot with five minutes to go, but his one-timed slapper was deflected out of play.

The Kraken had one final chance on a goalmouth scramble with Jones pulled for an extra attacker, but Yanni Gourde couldn’t shovel the puck home.

With the loss, the Kraken fell to 8-5-2 on the season.

Jones was again rock solid in the Kraken net, stopping 20 of 21 and keeping his team in it with an outstanding save off a one-timer by Kirill Kaprizov at the lip of the crease about 12 minutes into the middle frame. The Kraken took a penalty on the play but would kill that off plus another minor in the final five minutes of the frame to head to intermission down just the one goal.

The successive kills helped the Kraken improve to 16-for-16 in that department over their last five games.

Jones needed to be at the top of his game on a day the Kraken placed goaltender Philipp Grubauer on Long Term Injured Reserve. The move was done for salary cap reasons so backup Magnus Hellberg – reclaimed off waivers from Ottawa earlier in the week – could be placed on the roster along with recalled defenseman Gustav Oloffson.

Grubauer will need to miss a minimum of 10 games and 24 days, but the move is retroactive to his Oct. 21 injury and was likely to wind up missing that much time in any event.

Still, it’s largely the Jones show for now and he again did his part. The Kraken helped at times with some heads-up plays, such as defenseman Cale Fleury – making his season debut on his opposite shooting side – spoiling a potential 3-on-1 break against by playing the puck off the neutral zone side boards and out of harm’s way.

Matty Beniers would also come up big late in the second period after defenseman Carson Soucy lost his stick during a period of intense Minnesota pressure. Beniers handed his stick to Soucy – as it’s considered preferable for defensemen to have one over a forward when trying to clear the zone – but then was all alone guarding the slot when the puck exited a corner scrum and went straight to him.

There were two Minnesota forwards lurking nearby ready to pounce. But Beniers smartly kicked at the puck with his skate and managed to get it out of the zone before the Wild players could have at it.

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