Several punches, an early goal and plenty of hard skating into Monday night’s affair, the Kraken had served notice they didn’t intend this to be a business-as-usual home game.
But with 98 seconds to play in this 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Kraken were still seeking their first shot on goal of the final period in a stark indication that their finish wasn’t nearly enough. Some recent Kraken home stinkers had earned them a verbal coach lashing in practice and plenty of early motivation to build off an early first period Brandon Tanev goal, though a second marker by Alex Wennberg that frame was called back for goaltender interference and would be the final puck they put in a net all game.
“That’s simply not good enough,” Tanev, playing his first game since an injury in the season opener, said after his team fell to 5-8-3 on the season. “We’re playing against a good team and … we’ve got to be better on specialty teams. We’re playing against some of the best players in the world and the more chances you give them, the better the opportunity they’re going to have.”
Tanev took what he described as “a lazy penalty” but that wasn’t one of the two power plays the Avalanche capitalized on in six tries. Instead, it was Tanev being called for goalie interference after he and Wennberg broke in 2-on-1 while shorthanded that wound up nullifying the second Kraken goal and helped swing the contest.
Tanev had gone for the net, but clipped goalie Alexandar Georgiev and was still in the crease as Wennberg swatted away at three rebounds before putting the final one upstairs.
“I was reaching back for the puck and trying to make a play for the net,” Tanev said. “And I guess my foot kind of came into contact with the goaltender. Me, I didn’t like the call, but at the end of the day it’s the league making the decision, so you have to live with it and move on to the next shift.”
Instead of being down by a pair, the Avalanche regained their composure, kept pressuring the Kraken and eventually went ahead to stay on goals by Mikko Rantanen and Ross Colton just two minutes apart late in the middle frame. Cale Makar added a third Colorado goal just more than four minutes into the third period and Jonathan Drouin tacked on a fourth and Valeri Nichushkin a fifth in that final frame in which the Avalanche held a 12-1 shots advantage.
After logging 10 shots the opening frame, the Kraken had just nine the final two periods and didn’t get their initial one of the third until Adam Larsson hit the net with a long slapper from 150 feet away with 1:37 to play. The Kraken fell to 2-5-0 at home compared to 3-3-3 on the road.
Tanev was flying around the puck from the get-go and had opened the scoring just over six minutes in by pouncing on a Vince Dunn rebound. The goal came just 32 seconds after a lengthy fight between Avalanche heavyweight enforcer Kurtis MacDermid and Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, with the Colorado tough guy earning a tough decision with an eventual knockdown.
Still, the prolonged Oleksiak effort seemed to further energize an already revved-up Kraken squad that kept going at the visitors the remainder of that period and more.
Kraken goaltender Joey Daccord had preserved his team’s 1-0 lead past the game’s midway point with some quick reflex stops, earning chants of “Jo-ey! Jo-ey!” from the announced Climate Pledge Arena crowd of 17,151. But there was little Daccord could do on either Colorado goal to come that middle frame, both the result of rebounds off net-front scrambles.
“I think we were sticking to our game plan, playing the way we wanted to play,” Daccord said. “But they scored two quick ones and the wind got taken out of our sails a little bit.”
Rantanen’s tying goal marked the 12th time in their last 13 games the Kraken have blown a lead. It came off a wild scramble in which the Avalanche crashed the net in search of loose pucks, much as Colton pounced on a rebound during an ensuing Colorado power play.
“I felt like there were a lot of net-front scramble plays where they were just trying to get pucks to the net and get some greasy goals,” Daccord said. “I think their first two goals were like that. A credit to them. They did a good job.”
Kraken coach Dave Hakstol had loudly informed his team at a rough Sunday morning practice that a better effort would be needed following Saturday night’s ugly loss to Edmonton. Hakstol liked what he saw through the first half of the game, but admitted the final period plus wasn’t enough to get it done.
“Their top guys made it hard tonight,” Hakstol said. “Those guys played a lot of minutes and they were on their game. And at times they had us off balance. We didn’t back off of a whole lot of things. But we did get pushed off of the game as we got to the end of the second and the third period.”