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

Kraken make late push but end road trip with another loss

Geoff Baker Seattle Times

MONTREAL – An uncharacteristic, own-zone giveaway by Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak with two opposing players lurking right in front of him was the first sign of pending disaster.

Not only did that turnover immediately produce the first of two Monday night goals by Sean Monahan, but it also foreshadowed an uphill Kraken climb rife with giveaways and largely uninspired play before the final period. They were eventually let back into this 4-2 loss by a struggling Canadiens opponent used to blowing leads, but nonetheless exited looking every bit a beaten squad eager to leave Canada and limp back to the West Coast hoping to save their season.

What’s left to save for this 8-12-6 team will be something only it can determine in days ahead. Safe to say, the Kraken will have to bring more to the rink than they did to the Bell Centre for most of a night in which the Canadiens jumped on mistakes and could have put things away earlier if not for a hit goalpost and some huge Philipp Grubauer stops.

Jared McCann finally got the Kraken on the board with six minutes to go in the second period with his team already down three. His team-leading 12th of the season on a snapshot that beat Samuel Montembeault came after a Montreal player broke his stick and forced the home team into a de facto short-handed situation for several exhausting seconds at the end of a shift.

Vince Dunn then cut the lead to just a goal early in the third period with a blistering slap shot on the power play. But Josh Anderson sealed things with an empty-net goal in the final minute of a road trip that ends 0-3-1 and with the Kraken on a five-game losing streak. The ramifications of this trip can’t be understated: The Kraken have played themselves out of a playoff position and have given away multiple games in-hand to potential postseason suitors now passing them or on the verge of doing so.

Monahan’s opening goal barely four minutes in came when Oleksiak’s clearing attempt was intercepted by Anderson, who immediately made a goalmouth pass for the easy tap-in. Though the Kraken would go on to outshoot the Canadiens 14-10 that period, they also seemingly coughed up the puck at-will and were fortunate to only be down one.

That changed quickly in the second period, as a screened shot came in from the point that Grubauer made an initial late stop on. But he couldn’t control the rebound and it went right to Tanner Pearson, who jammed it home for a 2-0 lead just more than three minutes into the frame.

Fewer than three minutes after that, Juraj Slafkovsky – famously taken by Montreal ahead of Shane Wright as the No. 1 overall draft selection last year – capped a nice rush by splitting the defense and getting tripped by Adam Larsson. A minute into the ensuing power play, Nick Suzuki found Monahan alone in the slot for a one-timer Grubauer had no chance on and the Kraken were effectively done.

There were times on this trip, particularly the middle games in Toronto and Ottawa, where the Kraken played hard throughout and arguably deserved a better outcome. This wasn’t one of those games, an often fatigued-looking effort coming against a caliber of team far inferior to the Maple Leafs and Senators and one the Kraken has to be beating if still holding any hope of making the playoffs.

Still, the Canadiens, a rebuilding squad with plenty of heart but little finishing ability, were able to beat the Kraken to too many loose pucks at critical moments.