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Sports >  NHL

Kraken a no-show in lackluster matinee loss to Sharks

Feb. 20, 2023 Updated Mon., Feb. 20, 2023 at 9:11 p.m.

San Jose Sharks’ Evgeny Svechnikov #10 is mobbed after scoring a goal against the Seattle Kraken in the second period, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.  (Tribune News Service)
San Jose Sharks’ Evgeny Svechnikov #10 is mobbed after scoring a goal against the Seattle Kraken in the second period, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. (Tribune News Service)
By Kate Shefte Seattle Times

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Seattle Kraken never revved up in a Monday matinee loss to a San Jose Sharks team well outside the playoff picture.

If the Sharks score four goals at home, they win free Taco Bell for their fans. Throughout the third period, with the hosts up by three, SAP Center patrons were chanting for their first cheesy freebie in more than a month.

They left hungry and in high spirits. Michael Eyssimont made it 4-0 Sharks with just over three minutes to play and that score held.

“I think we just didn’t skate hard enough. They dictated the pace of the game,” Kraken alternate captain Yanni Gourde said, “We adjusted to them, which should never happen with our group.”

The Sharks have the second-to-worst record in the Pacific Division at 18-29-11, and the Kraken dropped eight goals on them in their last meeting. San Jose was also undermanned, as Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl were late scratches. But a three-goal outburst in the second period ended a three-game losing streak.

It was the third time the Kraken have been shut out this season, but the second time in eight games.

“You look at the footraces, the hardness and the battles at the puck, and they won the majority of those for a lot of stretches of this game,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “You can turn that, with some execution, at a point in the hockey game.”

A low-shooting first period gave way to a similar second. An own goal ended the stalemate just past the game’s halfway point.

Taking a faceoff to the left of goaltender Martin Jones, Gourde snaked his stick blade around Sharks captain Logan Couture and tried to win the draw to a teammate. He inadvertently sent it past several legs and underneath Jones, who clearly wasn’t expecting that.

Couture might never have made contact with the puck, but he was credited.

“Bad luck, bad bounce, but at the end of the day – I think we iced the puck just before that,” Gourde said. “There’s different plays in the game that kind of trickle down.”

He was right. Seattle iced the puck, leading to that too-good faceoff win.

About five minutes later, the Kraken missed two chances to get it out of their own end. The Sharks held in a puck at the blue line as Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn rolled it up the boards. Then Dunn tried a more direct exit and turned it over to Evgeny Svechnikov, who went in with enough time to put two chances on Jones. The second shot squeezed through.

The Kraken (32-19-6) couldn’t get out of the period with that reasonable 2-0 deficit. San Jose’s Noah Gregor pinched in and beat Jones low stick side.

With the teams surrounding them in the standings idle on Presidents Day, the Kraken left points on the table. There was spotty sustained pressure in the third period but not enough.

“It’s a little bit, too late,” Hakstol said. “In a 3-0 hole, that’s pretty deep to dig out of. Some good opportunities, absolutely. But now you’re under the gun for a lot of things to go right. “

The line consisting of Gourde, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Eeli Tolvanen was one of the most visible but nearly everyone was on the ice for at least one goal against. Both teams were scoreless on a pair of power-play chances.

James Reimer turned in 26 saves for San Jose. Jones finished with 20 against the team he spent six seasons with. Though he was a constant presence the first half of the season, this was Jones’ first game action in 10 days. The Kraken have dropped all three of his starts since the All-Star break.

Kraken fathers and mentors made the trip with their sons, sons-in-law, friends and brothers. Their record evened out at 1-1. Seattle downed the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 on Saturday at Climate Pledge Arena in front of the group of guests.

Seattle’s next two games are at home starting Thursday, when it hosts the Boston Bruins. The Bruins are still at the top of the league with 91 points and a 43-8-5 record following a 3-1 win Monday against the Ottawa Senators.

The Kraken became the first team to beat Boston in regulation at home on Jan. 12, a feat matched only by the Washington Capitals. The Kraken are still the only team to shut out the Bruins this season.

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