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Sophomore Jinx dooms Kraken against Lightning

Photo credit: Alex Walworth Scrum Sports

Much was made about the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in their initial season a few years ago. With good reason. They made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season.  The league’s next expansion team, the Seattle Kraken visit Amalie Arena tonight to play the Tampa Bay Lightning. In their first season last year, the Kraken never sniffed the playoffs from November on. This season, the Kraken are six points behind the Golden Knights who are the best team in the Western Conference. Clearly, there is no sophomore jinx for the Kraken. That’s not a guarantee they make the playoffs but as good as they are playing, they will control their postseason fate. 

If the Lightning have anything to say about it, they will give the Kraken all they can handle. Hey, the Lightning are winners of seven of their last nine games. Proving this season is different, the Kraken have won six of their last nine. Have a feeling, we are going to see a real barn burner tonight.

The Lightning are coming off the Saturday matinee against the Florida Panthers where they sent the Kitty Cats licking their wounds with a 4 -1 drubbing.


Right off the Bat

Before some of the fans found their seats for tonight’s game, Ian Cole shot a bouncing puck through a maze of players past Philipp Grubauer to put the Lightning up 1-0. Assisted by Nikita Kucherov and Brandon Hagel, the goal was Cole’s third of the season. The top line of Kucherov, Hagel and Brayden Point were flying and dominating in Seattle’s zone. If they keep this up, we’ll see more scoring.

A few minutes later, the top line was at it again. They were flying up and down the ice. Kucherov fed a streaking Point up the left side. Point zoomed into the Kraken zone and Hagel was moving into the slot. Two Kraken defenders went to cover Hagel. Trailing the play was Erik Cernak. Point slid the puck right onto Cernak’s stick who wristed the puck past Grubauer for the Lightning’s second goal of the game and Cernak’s first of the season. Kucherov and Point assisted and for Kucherov it was his 400th assist in his career.

But there was no crack in the Kraken. They stuck with their game plan, they played their game and were rewarded with a goal late in the first period. Out on a 2-1 breakaway, Jared McCann snapped one past Andrei Vasilevskiy to narrow the score to 2-1, Lightning.

Seconds Anyone?

Despite jumping out to a fairly quick two goal lead in the opening period, the Lightning had to realize these Kraken weren’t going to throw in the towel. The visitors were playing hard and working to get that tying goal. By the midway point of the period, the Kraken had two more shots than the Lightning. Faceoffs were dead even. Lightning did have 12 giveaways helped in many ways by the Kraken’s 12 takeaways. Would Seattle get this game tied?

At 12:13 of the period with the Lightning on a power play, which had looked timid at the end of  their second chance with the extra man scored. Corey Perry snapped a shot past Grubauer to make the score 3-1 Lightning.

Sophomore Jinx in Full Bloom

A mere 65 seconds after the Perry power play goal, Point skated and stick handled his way past three Kraken defenders and found himself all alone in front of Grubauer. He lifted a back hand that the Seattle goalie never saw. In the blink of an eye this second period of this game in their second season put the Kraken asunder. The Seattle sophomore jinx was in full effect.

After the Point goal to make it 4-1 Lightning, Grubauer was pulled and backup Martin Jones went in  net for Seattle. The Lightning didn’t  welcome him well as the first shot Jones faced was a Mikhail Sergachev blast from the point that Ross Colton tipped in. The rout was on.

Shut the Door

Heading into the final period leading 5-1, the Lightning have one objective. Play smart and don’t let them back in the game. Even with the four goal deficit, there was no quit in this Kraken team. They gave a glimpse of why they’re having a good season. But a comeback would turn out to be a Herculean task. The game began getting chippy. Former Lightning Yanni Gourde was the ringleader for Seattle in this regard. Always willing to fight above his weight class, he was giving Pat Maroon the business and they both were called for roughing.

Five minutes into the third, Steven Stamkos scored his 497th career goal. This extended his point streak to 14 games. This is four short of the franchise record held by…you guessed it – Stamkos. This was the straw that broke the Kraken back. After Stamkos made it 6-1, a fight between Cal Foote and Morgan Geekie broke out. It was more of a mutual hug than a bout.

With less than five seconds remaining, Gourde found Ryan Donato who lifted a backhand for Seattle’s second goal of the game. That’s where the game ends Lightning win 6-2.

Three Stars

  1. Brayden Point – 1 highlight reel goal and 1 assist
  2. Nikita Kucherov – 3 assists including his 400th career assist
  3. Ross Colton – 1 goal, 1 assist

What’s Next

Thursday night at 7 pm against the Columbus Blue Jackets.  The last home game of the longest home stretch of the season.

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