Not surprisingly, the Chicago Blackhawks were soundly defeated by the Seattle Kraken Saturday to a tune of 7-3. It's good for The Plan™ of chasing the best NHL Draft Lottery odds, but it's bad for those of us who had to stay up to watch this late night game.
And by "those of us", I mean me: it was bad for me.
The Kraken opened the scoring 4:48 into the game. Jesper Froden dropped the puck back to Eeli Tolvanen who wired it into the net to put the Kraken up 1-0.
The Blackhawks answered about a minute later when Seth Jones cut towards the net and banged home a pass from Anders Bjork to tie the game 1-1.
The Kraken made it 2-1 at 8:55 in the first period as a shot from Jamie Oleksiak deflected off Jordan Eberle's skate and into the goal.
While on the powerplay, Yanni Gourde batted Eberle's rebound out of mid-air and past Petr Mrazek, giving the Kraken a 3-1 lead with less than a minute left in the first.
The Blackhawks responded with their own power play goal 10:39 into the second period to bring them within one of the Kraken. It was S. Jones again: he one-timed the puck from the high slot after a nice pass from Lukas Reichel.
The Kraken respond at 12:21 when Jared McCann hit Adam Larsson with a long pass after the latter came out of the penalty box, and Larsson absolutely deked Mrzak out of his jockstrap.
Daniel Sprong extended the Kraken's lead to 5-2 less than a minute later. Jarred Tinordi inexplicably tried to pass in the slot in front of his own goal, Justin Schultz got his stick on the puck enough to deflect it to a wide open Connor Geekie, who scored easily.
The young guns on the Blackhawks got in on the action at about the 15 minute mark of the second period: Reichel tipped Alex Vlasic's shot from nearly the blueline in past Martin Jones to make it 5-3.
It looked like Jujhar Khaira would get the Blackhawks within one with 3:14 left in the second period, but the Kraken successfully challenged for offsides and the goal was overturned.
Philipp Grubauer replaced Jones in net for Seattle at the start of the third period, likely due to injury or precaution.
The Kraken went up 6-3 as Oliver Bjorkstrand forced a turnover and set up Jared McCann 11:54 in the third period. Another ugly turnover by the Blackhawks, this time by Caleb Jones.
The Kraken scored the extra point with Daniel Sprong setting up Morgan Geekie right in front of the net with 5:09 left in the game.
That would be the final score of the game, and the Blackhawks fall 7-3 to the Kraken. Just another night watching the Blackhawks get blown out of the water.
- The Blackhawks were arguably the better team in the first period, despite the score. They had a slight edge in shot attempts (15-13) and scoring chances (9-7) while owning 60.02 percent of the expected goals at 5-on-5. But a lucky deflection and random batted puck were the difference for the Kraken.
- The second period was a different story: the Kraken owned 61.54 percent of the shot attempts, 71.43 percent of the scoring chances, and 81.42 percent of the expected goals. They really turned it on when necessary.
- The third was much closer than the score indicated, but it doesn't matter when the Blackhawks turn the puck over so much.
- I wouldn't be surprised if Mrazek's oft broken groin wasn't feeling the best after that Larsson goal.
- Speaking of broken things, Tinordi is possibly done for the season after leaving the game with a slight limp late in the game. He was not good most of the season – and especially bad tonight – but I feel for the dude having to deal with so many injuries this season.
- Does Connor Murphy hate Yanni Gourde more than Gourde hates Murphy? They always seem to want to fight.
- It'll be interesting to see how the Kraken do in the playoffs: they've survived having arguably the worst goalie tandem this season by outscoring their opponents, but the playoffs are always tighter games.
- A Reichel goal with a Vlasic assist is a combination we'll hopefully see lots of next season when more young players get bigger opportunities with the Blackhawks. Coach Luke Richardson spoke post-game about how good both Reichel and Vlasic were in tonight:
"Both [Reichel] and Vlasic had one of their best games, both of them. Vlasic looked a little more aggressive moving pucks and skating pucks, shooting it on the one goal. Reichs...was on the body on the forecheck, and when we had the puck, he was impressive."
- It's also great to see Vlasic get in one more game before he and Reichel are sent back to Rockford since at morning skate Vlasic was looking like a scratch to rotate in Kaiser. Instead, Richardson allowed both young guys to play – a rarity when their are veteran options available. Perhaps it shows that Richardson will play multiple young guys on defense in the future.
- With his goal and assist tonight, Reichel now has five points (2 G, 3 A) in his last five games. He's reportedly headed back to Rockford tomorrow – and they desperately need him – so that brings his NHL point total to 15 points (7 G, 7 A) in 23 games for this season. Reichel said he's good with rejoining the IceHogs a little earlier than originally intended:
- As for the other youngster on the team, Kaiser had a decent showing as well, though he was pretty dragged down by his partner most of the night. You could see how his active stick is a big part of his defensive ability tonight though, often knocking the puck out of trouble areas and getting his stick into passing/shooting lanes.
- S. Jones' two goals tonight brought his total for the season to 12, tied for the second most in his career. He started off slowly this season, but really look off and played like a top-pairing defenseman after returning from his hand injury – or really, after the splint he was required to wear for a bit was removed.
- In other moving parts related to The Plan™, the Columbus Blue Jackets lost tonight – getting them closer to securing the coveted 32nd place – while the Anaheim Ducks picked up a loser point – pushing them back to 30th. The Blackhawks' own loss helped them keep pace with the Jackets for last place, ut it definitely looks like it's going to be a photo finish between the bottom-three teams.
- PS. Games this late should be illegal.
- Daniel Sprong (SEA) – 1 goal, 2 assists
- Lukas Reichel (CHI) – 1 goal, 1 assist, and for helping make these last few games somewhat worth watching for a Blackhawks fan
- Me – staying up well past midnight to get this recap done
The Blackhawks return to Chicago to face the Minnesota Wild Monday at 8 p.m. at the United Center.