Kraken suffers sixth consecutive loss, a 7-3 stinker to Avalanche

Snow obscures the Seattle Kraken's Jordan Eberle as Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper makes a save during the first period at Climate Pledge Arena on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in Seattle. (Jennifer Buchanan/Seattle Times/TNS)
advertisement
Testing Article Top Adspace

Geoff Baker The Seattle Times (TNS)

SEATTLE — Fewer than six minutes had gone by in the second period but for Seattle Kraken goalie Chris Driedger and the groaning fans watching, the game was already long over.

The expansion Kraken haven’t played too many stinkers in their early season swoon but this 7-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night definitely reeked of something by the time Driedger was pulled from the net with his team down by four. It ended in a sixth consecutive loss for the home side on yet another night when the goaltending wasn’t good enough and the Kraken skaters uncharacteristically followed suit.

A crowd of 17,151 at Climate Pledge Arena was reduced to near silence as the Avalanche, listed as preseason favorites by many to capture the Stanley Cup, put on a display of skill like none the Kraken has really seen this season. And by the time this horror show was done, the Kraken were left with far more questions than they likely have answers to about their own skill level, goaltending, lack of scoring and overall consistency.

advertisement

It was 7-0 before Jordan Eberle and Brandon Tanev finally popped some powerplay goals for the Kraken in the third period, followed by a late one from Colin Blackwell. But it wasn’t nearly enough for the 4-12-1 team, which, after an offensive surge a couple of weeks back, has now been held to three goals or fewer in four of the last five games.

An apt symbol for the night was Tanev slamming his stick against a tunnel wall after the second period and a female fan flipping a double-bird to the camera operator when she was shown on the giant video scoreboards during random third period crowd shots.

Kraken coach Dave Hakstol had spoken the past two days about wanting stronger forechecking by his team from the get-go. He started a forward line of Tanev, Yanni Gourde and Blackwell looking to do just that and got some initial results in the opening minutes as his team buzzed around Colorado’s end.

But then Ryan Donato took a hooking penalty in that offensive zone and the night went downhill from there. Colorado’s powerplay has been on quite a roll lately and quickly converted as Andre Burakovsky scored his first of two, slotting an errant clearing attempt by Jeremy Lauzon into a vacated net.

Driedger, starting only his second game this season and first in 10 days, had made an initial save of a previous shot but allowed too big a rebound and was out of position by the time the puck found its way to Burakovsky. Fewer than three minutes later, with the Kraken on a powerplay of their own, Jaden Schwartz turned the puck over and Valeri Nichushkin got a breakaway down the right side and fired one past Driedger – who’d left him a lot of net to shoot at.

Schwartz had a final chance to get his team back in it on a clear-cut breakaway with eight minutes to go in the period but rang a shot off the post. Colorado was off to the races from there, taking a 2-0 lead to intermission and then scoring just 3:01 into the second as Mikko Rantanen redirected a Cal Makar point shot that Driedger had no chance on.

But Driedger had a good view a couple of minutes later when Burakovsky took a pass in the right circle on another Avalanche powerplay and fired a wristshot past the goalie for Colorado’s fourth goal on 13 shots. Hakstol pulled Driedger right there at the 5:33 mark with the Kraken down 4-0 and replacement Philipp Grubauer allowed goals by Makar and Erik Johnson before the middle frame was over to send the home team to intermission trailing by an unconverted touchdown.

The rare blowout defeat by the Kraken, who hadn’t been pasted like this since losing 6-1 in Philadelphia a month ago, will likely spark further scrutiny of the early goaltending tandem split between Driedger and Grubauer. Driedger at times looked like a goalie in adapting to the early stages of preseason play, his rust apparent in his unsteadiness handling certain shots in the face of Colorado’s offensive barrage.

But unlike recent games when the Kraken have turned around after starting slow in the first period, they had little to offer in this one once the second period began. And outside of the brief third period spark, they pretty much no-showed for the night.

©2021 The Seattle Times. Visit seattletimes.com.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.