RECAP: Kraken drop first game back from break, fall 5–2 to Coyotes


Following a 1–3 road trip, including three straight losses, the Seattle Kraken returned home to officially start the second half of their inaugural season Wednesday, hosting one of the few teams below them in the standings, the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes were on the second night of a back-to-back after dropping a disappointing game to the Vancouver Canucks just 24 hours before.

The Kraken definitely had more energy to open the contest, peppering Arizona goaltender Karel Vejmelka with 15 shots on net, while only surrendering eight Coyotes shots. However, as has been the case many times this season, the Coyotes opened the scoring just over four minutes into play. Veteran Phil Kessel found the puck on his stick with only Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer to beat after a poor turnover on the half wall by Seattle defenseman Adam Larsson. This turned out to be all the first period scoring as the teams headed into the first intermission.

Arizona bounced back in the second period to outshoot the Kraken 10–9 and were able to pad their lead with five minutes remaining in the period. Nick Schmaltz raced up the left wing by himself on a breakout and beat Grubauer over the glove for a 2–0 Coyotes lead. The Kraken were getting shots, but could not solve the 25-year-old Arizona netminder, which set up a tense third period for all involved.

As the third period commenced, Seattle finally got on the scoreboard despite killing a Vince Dunn slashing penalty that carried over from the previous period. Colin Blackwell carried the puck up the right half wall with, what seemed like, little opportunity for scoring. Blackwell snapped a long wrist shot from the top of the circle and beat a seemingly surprised Vejmelka to cut the Arizona lead to 2–1, just 16 seconds into the third.


Arizona came right back and expanded their lead to two goals, once again, just 1:36 later. Veteran defenseman Anton Stralman surprised everyone by sneaking into the play and scooping a loose puck past Grubauer. This was how the score remained heading into the final five minutes of regulation.

While the Kraken have had many disappointing results this season, they cannot be accused of quitting very often, which was also the case in this game. With 4:08 remaining in regulation, potential trade deadline trade target Calle Jarnkrok took a cross-ice backdoor pass from Yanni Gourde for a tap-in goal that cut the Coyotes’ lead in half once again.

Unfortunately, this would be as far as the Kraken could come back, with Arizona scoring empty-net goals from Alex Galchenyuk and Schmaltz to secure a 5–2 win.

Anchor points

⚓ The rule of thumb is that if you outshoot your opponent at home, you should win said game. The Kraken did so and lost. They cannot keep allowing these unforced errors to cost them wins. Larsson’s strange, blind, between-the-legs turnover in his own end is an avoidable mistake. Just chip it up the wall. Keep things simple, make the smart play and win the game.

⚓ Converting on the power play, in addition to the shorthanded Blackwell tally, would have had the Kraken tied heading into the final minutes of regulation rather than pulling their goaltender and eventually surrendering two more goals. Little things.

⚓ Grubauer was “just okay” in this one. The Schmaltz goal seemed to surprise him and was definitely a low percentage opportunity. The Kessel and Stralman goals can be chalked up to poor defensive coverage.

⚓ As mentioned earlier, Larsson had a rough night and his underlying numbers strongly support that. He was on the ice for 22 5-on-5 chances against and only 12 for. Dave Hakstol might want to consider breaking up that pair of Giordano and Larsson. He may be forced to if Giordano gets moved at the deadline, which should be a very real possibility.

⚓ I have been really hard on Jeremy Lauzon all year, but the Dunn–Lauzon pair was analytically really good with 63% Corsi at even strength.

⚓ It is strange to see a team lead in shots by a considerable margin but get beat in possession metrics in almost all categories, but the Kraken are an enigma.

🔱 5-on-5 Corsi (total shot attempts) RECAP: Kraken drop first game back from break, fall 5–2 to Coyotes 51%–49%
🔱 5-on-5 Fenwick (Unblocked shot attempts) RECAP: Kraken drop first game back from break, fall 5–2 to Coyotes 52%–48%
🔱 5-on-5 High-danger chances for RECAP: Kraken drop first game back from break, fall 5–2 to Coyotes 56%–44%
🔱 5-on-5 Expected goals for RECAP: Kraken drop first game back from break, fall 5–2 to Coyotes 56%–44%
🔱 Face-off percentage RECAP: Kraken drop first game back from break, fall 5–2 to Coyotes 53%–47%

The Kraken are off today but travel to Southern California to face the Anaheim Ducks on Friday. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. PST.