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Kraken keep faith in Carson Soucy after pair of late penalties

Nov. 23, 2022 Updated Wed., Nov. 23, 2022 at 4:06 p.m.

The Seattle Kraken's Carson Soucy skates against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Dec. 1, 2021, in Detroit.  (Tribune News Service)
The Seattle Kraken's Carson Soucy skates against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Dec. 1, 2021, in Detroit. (Tribune News Service)
By Kate Shefte Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Like it or not, defenseman Carson Soucy gave the Kraken a chance to work on some longstanding 3-on-3 overtime issues. In the end, maybe they’re better for it.

With 26 seconds left in the game Nov. 13 and the Kraken clinging to a one-goal lead over the Winnipeg Jets, Soucy’s lapse in judgment led to a man advantage that led to an overtime loss. Later that week against the New York Rangers, improbably, he was back in the penalty box as a different team forced overtime.

“You’ve got to be able to wash some of that weight off your shoulders and just clear the deck and go play,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s what we want ‘Souce’ to do.”

Soucy finds a way to get under opponents’ skin but doesn’t think of himself as someone who takes retaliatory penalties. He appeared to punch Winnipeg’s Pierre-Luc Dubois in the back of the helmet, dropping him to the ice with 26 seconds left in regulation Nov. 13. He said he didn’t mean to catch Dubois that high.

It came at the end of a contact-filled sequence, with the players exchanging at least one cross-check to the torso and slash to the shin. The officials turned a blind eye at that late stage of the game until Soucy gave them something they couldn’t ignore.

“It’s more embarrassment than anything. You kind of let your team down,” Soucy said.

“Usually, I’m a guy who keeps my cool, who doesn’t react to those kind of things. I was even surprised by myself.”

Hakstol acknowledged that mistakes happen. Even with an extra defenseman waiting in the wings, he didn’t remove Soucy – whose $2,500 fine for roughing was announced by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety the next day – from the lineup.

“You’re responsible for your teammates, but you have to know that your teammates know you, love you, support you,” Hakstol said. “And then you’ve got to move on, and then you’ve got to go and play. And sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do, when you feel responsibility.”

On Thursday, Soucy’s elbowing penalty to Rangers star defenseman Adam Fox was killed off without incident midway through the third period. Justin Schultz gave the Kraken a 2-1 lead soon afterward.

Soucy was whistled again for hooking Julien Gauthier with just under 3 minutes left. Soucy’s reaction mirrored the mood inside Climate Pledge Arena – “not again.”

With just under 2 minutes to play, the Rangers tied the score at 2. Schultz reclaimed his winner, scoring again in overtime.

“It was huge to get the two points,” Soucy said. “That was a lifesaver for me.”

Soucy rejoined the straight and narrow in Saturday’s 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings – another overtime game, but no late equalizer this time.

He was plus-one with a shot on goal and two hits through 16:20 of ice time. No penalty minutes.

“You definitely want to avoid those situations, but it’s nice that they still have trust in me, to come back and have two bounce-back games,” Soucy said.

Lineup questions

Jamie Oleksiak practiced in a regular contact jersey Tuesday at Kraken Community Iceplex. The defenseman has missed four games because of a lower-body injury.

“Not jumping to any conclusions yet for (Wednesday’s home game against San Jose). He’ll remain day to day and see where he’s at (Wednesday morning),” Hakstol said.

Cale Fleury played three of the four games in Oleksiak’s absence. Gustav Olofsson was recalled from Coachella Valley of the American Hockey League and played against Winnipeg but has since been reassigned.

Oleksiak’s return could signal the return of the three defensive pairings observers came to expect. Adam Larsson and Vince Dunn stuck together even after Oleksiak’s injury. Oleksiak and Schultz found a groove. And Will Borgen and Soucy sat ninth (1.98) on moneypuck.com’s shutdown pairings list (lowest expected goals against per 60 minutes, minimum 100 minutes played together) as of Tuesday, though they’ve been apart the past few games.

“I like playing with him,” Borgen said. “We keep it pretty light back there, and I think we’re both are on the same page most of the time.”

With Philipp Grubauer back in the fold, TSN reported that third goaltender Magnus Hellberg was placed on waivers. Hellberg signed with the Kraken in July and has already been claimed off waivers twice this season, once by the Ottawa Senators, then by Seattle.

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