Stars score three goals on power play, Kraken lose 5-2
A strength for the Seattle Kraken since the start of the calendar year became an Achilles heel for the team on Monday night.
The Dallas Stars scored three goals on the power play in a listless 5-2 Kraken loss. It's the second loss to the Stars at home in three days after a 4-3 overtime defeat on Saturday night.
"There's a couple there that we made mistakes on with where our positioning, where our sticks are," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "I think the high tip (from Joe Pavelski), you know, I think that's one Jones might be able to fight off. It's a tough play but it's one he might be able to fight off and help us get through that point in time. But, you know, they got us on three of them."
Entering Monday night, the Kraken had the eighth-worst penalty kill in the NHL at 75.3 percent. However, in 24 games played since January 15, the Kraken ranked second in the NHL with an 89.8 percent kill rate, which trails only the 93.0 percent of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Nevertheless, the Stars managed to get three goals with the man advantage that served as the difference in the contest.
"Obviously today it didn't work out and we'll look at it we'll improve," center Alex Wennberg said. "We've been doing a great job. So I mean, obviously it's something we take notice of but we're gonna still do the same thing, work on the things we were good at and just keep playing."
It's a game that got sideways on the Kraken from the opening minutes of the contest.
An unlucky bounce put the Kraken in an early hole. A Wyatt Johnston toss toward the net from a wide angle deflected off the skate of Adam Larsson, rebounded off the end boards, caromed off Evgeny Dadonov and redirected into the net behind Jones to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.
A power play goal from Jamie Benn soon extended the Dallas lead to 2-0. With Yanni Gourde in the penalty box for a slash against Dadonov, Benn converted a rebound chance off an initial look from Jason Robertson just eight seconds into the man advantage.
The Kraken then had a bouncing puck go in their favor. A Vince Dunn shot wide off the end boards was slapped toward the net by Gourde and bounced off Joe Pavelski into the net to make it a 2-1 game at the end of the first period.
A second power play goal extended the Stars' lead early in the second period.
After a Jamie Oleksiak tripping penalty, Pavelski deflected a point shot from Benn high over Jones to make it a 3-1 game.
Eeli Tolvanen scored his 12th goal in 33 goals played with Seattle on a deflection in front of the net on a Dunn shot that slipped by Oettinger. Dallas defenseman Joel Henley had shoved Gourde into Oettinger's face in the crease and took away his vision as Tolvanen poked the puck through to cut the lead to 3-2.
But just 14 seconds later, the Stars restored their two-goal advantage. Johnston skated around the check attempt of Daniel Sprong and beat Jones clean to make it a 4-2 Dallas lead.
"I feel like we have the momentum and obviously it just hits you back pretty hard," Wennberg said.
Hakstol said they made errors of the ensuing face-off that got the team out of position as the Stars broke into the offensive zone.
"That's a tough momentum shift off of that face-off. It's a little bit of a broken play, but ultimately, we end up with two guys on the wrong side," Hakstol said.
"You're drawn to the play inside of our line but ultimately there's a couple things that happened before that in the neutral zone where we have two guys on the wrong side of that play and it ends up breaking down to a puck battle and race that they get to the net on us on."
Then with Larsson in the box on a tripping call to begin the third period, the Stars capitalized again. Jason Robertson hammered a one-timer by Jones and the Stars grabbed a 5-2 lead.
"They've got a lot of skilled players," Larsson said. "I don't know. I mean, we seemed to be one second late. So that cost us pretty much the game."
Vince Dunn assisted on both of Seattle's goals from Yanni Gourde and Eeli Tolvanen. It extended his point streak to 10 straight games, which is a personal and franchise record.
Tolvanen scored his 12th goal in 33 games played with the Kraken this season since being claimed off waivers from the Nashville Predators in December.
While the Kraken's playoff positioning is still relatively secure, the three straight losses to the Stars and Ottawa Senators have allowed the Calgary Flames and Predators to get within eight points of Seattle. The two teams are the first two out of the playoff picture and one of them would need to supplant the Kraken to keep them out of a playoff spot.
The more realistic impact comes to playoff positioning. The Kraken have lost ground to the Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division race. The Stars are plus-3 in matchups with Seattle this weekend in the Western Conference race. And the Edmtonton Oilers could punt the Kraken into a Wild Card spot with a win Tuesday night at home against the Senators.
That being said, the Kraken can't afford another road dud to the San Jose Sharks. Seattle lost 4-0 to the Sharks last month in probably their worst game in recent memory until Monday night's effort against Dallas. The Kraken play in San Jose on Thursday night before a meeting with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisitl and the Oilers back at home on Saturday afternoon.