Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • November 30, 2021
New Jersey Starts Fast And Then Fights Off The Seattle Kraken’s Heavy Comeback

You could feel the momentum shifting like a pendulum from heavy New Jersey in the first period to heavy Seattle in the third.

It was the Devils’ fast start at the Prudential Center on Tuesday that carried them and they sealed a 4-2 victory despite a heavy bombardment of offense by the Kraken late.

It wasn’t until 19:40 of the third period, when Pavel Zacha scored an empty-netter, that New Jersey finally wrapped it up.

Coming off their worse loss so far in its inaugural NHL season on Monday (6-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers), Seattle was mistake-prone in the first period and fell behind 2-0 on goals by Dawson Mercer and Damon Severson.

Riley Sheahan scored Seattle’s first goal in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to New Jersey.

But as has been customary, this Kraken squad proved it was far from done. A Jeremy Lauzon hit (that looked clean) ended Devils star Jack Hughes’ night. The puck-controlling defenseman and play-maker appeared to have a shoulder injury.

And New Jersey’s overall play suffered without Hughes, but still, the Devils nearly went up by three goals at the first period-ending buzzer. That’s when Nico Hishier’s tap-in of Jesper Bratt’s hard cross-crease saucer pass was ruled no goal — late by a fraction of a second — by the referees upon review.

Finally, 10:05 into the middle period, Seattle broke through to make it 2-1 on Riley Sheahan‘s rocket rebound goal after Adam Larsson‘s slap shot.

“I thought we had a way better pushback tonight,” Seattle defenseman and captain Mark Giordano said. “We started to carry the play. We started to really generate.”

But yet another Seattle defensive breakdown led to a bang-bang-bang Devils goal — Colton White to Andreas Johansson to Jimmy Vesey, who put it in — for a 3-1 lead with 5:12 to go in the second.

“The third (goal against) really stinged, but I thought we still pushed,” Giordano added.

After that, it was nearly all Kraken, who stiffened on defense and began to control the flow in front of goalie Joey Daccord, who was making his first start for the team.

Two minutes later after going down by two, Alex Wennberg delivered an apparent Seattle goal, but it was negated on review when it was ruled that a Seattle teammate was two inches offside.

Interestingly enough, Kraken coach Dave Hakstol opted to pull Daccord with 6:50 left in the game. And, fortunately for the Kraken, within the next 20 seconds, two New Jersey penalties gave them a 5-on-3 advantage.

Jared McCann didn’t waste the opportunity, making it a 3-2 game with 5:19 to go with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle to the low blocker side of a screened Jonathan Bernier.

The Kraken’s Jared McCann has four points in five games.

“In the third, they (the Devils) were doing a good job clogging the neutral zone as much as they could, but it was good to get the power play and then have a push,” Giordano said. “We just couldn’t find a way to get inside and get that extra goal that we needed.”

Some intense offensive moments by Seattle deep in New Jersey’s zone against Bernier (27 saves overall) did not pan out for the NHL’s 32nd franchise.

Daccord made 29 saves.

The Kraken have 87 penalty minutes in the last two games, most of it due to their newfound penchant for fighting. Seattle’s Lauzon, Ryan Donato and Brandon Tanev all got into fisticuffs on Tuesday after two bouts by Nathan Bastian and one by Jamie Oleksiak on Monday.

With Road Trip Done, Seattle’s Home Opener Is Saturday

The long-awaited, historic Seattle home opener is Saturday against Vancouver and that starts a four-game home stand.

The Kraken went 1-3-1 in their five-games-in-eight days road swing, and three of those were decided by one goal.

Giordano mentioned that practice this week will give Seattle a chance to fix some things it didn’t have time to work on because of the heavy load of games.

“There’s no excuses, obviously, but we definitely need some practices,” he said. “You can see it in little areas of the game. We gotta sharpen up. We’ll get two good ones (practices) in when we get home and it’s going to be really good for our team. And then playing in front of friends and family in our building for the first time ever is going to be a special night.”

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>> Oct. 12: At Vegas Golden Knights 4, Seattle Kraken 3
>> Oct. 14: Seattle Kraken 4, at Nashville Predators 3
>> Oct. 16: At Columbus Blue Jackets 2, Seattle Kraken 1, OT
>> Oct. 18: At Philadelphia Flyers 6, Seattle Kraken 1
>> Oct. 19: At New Jersey Devils 4, Seattle Kraken 2
>> Oct. 23: Vancouver Canucks at Seattle Kraken
>> Oct. 26: Montreal Canadiens at Seattle Kraken
>> Oct. 28: Minnesota Wild at Seattle Kraken
>> Oct. 31: New York Rangers at Seattle Kraken
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Back From Injury, Yanni Gourde Makes Seattle Debut

Seattle’s Yanni Gourde, an alternate captain, returned from a shoulder injury to record one assist, and he looked sharp in his 22 minutes-plus. He centered the top line with Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz.

Defenseman Vince Dunn, who missed Monday’s game with an undisclosed injury, was back in action as well.

Four Kraken players are on injured reserve — wingers Marcus Johansson (lower body), Calle Jarnkrok (COVID-19 protocol) and Colin Blackwell (lower body) as well as goalie Chris Driedger, who was put on IR earlier Tuesday with an undisclosed injury.

Three Seattle players were healthy scratches — winger Alex Barre-Boulet and defensemen Haydn Fleury and Will Borgen. Goaltender Philip Grubauer, who got the team’s first four starts, rested on the bench.

Winger Kole Lind, who played against Philadelphia, was sent back down to the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL earlier Tuesday.

Seattle’s lines against New Jersey were:

>> LW-Jaden Schwartz, C-Yanni Gourde, RW-Jordan Eberle
>> LW-Joonas Donskoi, C-Alex Wennberg, RW-Nathan Bastian
>> LW-Brandon Tanev, C-Morgan Geekie, RW-Jared McCann
>> LW-Ryan Donato, C-Riley Sheahan, RW-Mason Appleton

The defensive pairings against the Devils were:

>> Mark Giordano and Carson Soucy
>> Jamie Oleksiak and Adam Larsson
>> Jeremy Lauzon and Vince Dunn

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ALSO AT Bedrock SportsOuch: Gritty Philly Gives Seattle A Smackdown Welcome To The NHL
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