Kailer Yamamoto, Philipp Grubauer give Kraken critical 4-3 shootout victory over Bruins

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 26: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins collides with Brian Dumoulin #8 and Philipp Grubauer #31 of the Seattle Kraken during the second period of a game at Climate Pledge Arena on February 26, 2024 in Seattle, Washi

With no more margin for error remaining with just 10 days left until the NHL trade deadline, the Seattle Kraken found a way to stay in the hunt.

Kailer Yamamoto scored the only goal in the shootout for Seattle and Philipp Grubauer was a perfect 3-for-3 in stops after making 29 saves on 32 shots to give the Kraken a critical 4-3 shootout victory over the Boston Bruins.

It was a game the Kraken couldn't afford to lose. They are out of time and have no mulligans remaining in their pocket. After Saturday's 5-2 dud against the Minnesota Wild, the Kraken found themselves in danger of falling from the back end of the playoff chase in the Western Conference. Even one point for reaching overtime wasn't realistically going to be enough. The team needs to get two points just about every game they play between now and the trade deadline to show they can keep pace in the playoff chase.

"Just understanding how crucial these next few weeks are," said Vince Dunn, who scored for the third straight game early in the third period to tie the game at 2-2. "I think the Minnesota game got away from us from a whole lot of different aspects but like I said, we got to find a way to forget about those games and these two big wins against Vancouver and Boston,, that's good for the confidence and we just need to keep rolling from here."

Jordan Eberle scored his 14th goal of the year and eighth goal this month off a mistake from Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark in the second period, and Dunn and Oliver Bjorkstrand each scored in the third period to send the game to overtime. Grubauer came up with some big saves against Brad Marchand, Jake DeBrusk and others and earned his second shootout victory since returning to the lineup from injury earlier this month.

"We're in a race," Bjorkstrand said. "We know each game is huge right now. Can't really afford to lose a lot of games. So we got to be hungry every game and that's just how it is. So if we want to make the playoffs, it's got to be that type of hockey."

The Bruins entered the night tied for the lead in the Eastern Conference with the New York Rangers. The Kraken have now beat Boston twice in the last two weeks. Seattle also beat the Western Conference-leading Vancouver Canucks last Thursday early in the home stand. 

The Kraken also have victories over the Vegas Golden Knights, Los Angeles Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche, all of which are in solid playoff position. They are capable of playing at that level and winning games, which makes their tenuous hold on the playoff race so much more difficult to project.

If Seattle can't keep pace, they have a handful of pending free agents – including Eberle, Alex Wennberg, Justin Schultz and Tomáš Tatar – that could be moved in trades to reset the roster for the future. That's what makes the next 10 days and games against Boston, Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg so vital. Those possible decisions have an expiration date.

But the Kraken still have a pulse following the victory over the Bruins.

"At this point in time, other than some of the head-to-head matchups that we're going to run into, you know, it really doesn't matter who it's against," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "Some of those are going to be four-point swings so they have a little more importance on them. But if you look at the last couple of wins here, it's more about the importance of the two points and what we did to get them."

Bruins star David Pastrňák jumped on an opportunity created off a bad bounce to give Boston the 1-0 lead. A soft shovel by the glove side of Grubauer by Pastrňák gave Boston the lead less than six minutes into the contest.

Will Borgen attempted to keep the puck in the Boston zone only to have the puck kick off the skate of Jesper Boqvist directly to Kevin Shattenkirk, who quickly fired a stretch pass to Pastrňák at the opposite blue line for the breakaway.

The Kraken had just one shot on net through the first 12 minutes of action as the Bruins did a terrific job of suppressing Seattle's offense. Eventually, Seattle created an extended shift in the Boston end that saw four shots on Ullmark in less than 20 seconds. All four shots came from over 30 feet from the net and Ullmark was able to stop all of them to preserve Boston's advantage.

A massive gaffe from Ullmark on a Seattle power play early in the second period allowed the Kraken to tie the game at 1-1. Boston had neutered most of the Kraken's power play with multiple clearances without Seattle able to get set up in the offensive zone. One last dump into the offensive zone came to the net with Ullmark attempting to clear the puck himself. Instead, his clearance try hit Eberle and dropped right into the goal crease for a tap-in finish.

The Bruins committed three total penalties in the period with Brandon Carlo cross-checking Tatar and a too many men penalty that gave Seattle a brief 5-on-3 chance. But the Boston penalty kill kept Seattle from taking the lead and the Bruins clamped down again on the Kraken offense. Seattle finished with just five shots on net in the period despite the three power plays with Jared McCann recording the final shot of the period with 10:49 left in the frame.

Grubauer made a big save to deny a Jake DeBrusk shot on a 2-on-1 opportunity with Pastrňák and got fortunate with DeBrusk's rebound try going off the post and out. But a defensive breakdown in front of the net left Pastrňák open for his second goal of the night. Borgen attempted to challenge Pavel Zacha as he circled behind the net, which left Pastrňák open for a pass from Zacha that he buried to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.

Seattle came out with a significant push to open the third period. The Kraken had the first nine shots on net in the period as Ullmark made two bigs saves on Jaden Schwartz and a floater through traffic from Jamie Oleksiak. The ninth shot of the period came from Dunn and managed to beat the glove of Ullmark from the left circle to tie it up at 2-2.

"I think just desperation and you saw all the way through all three zones and I thought we played the right way for I'd say a very, very good portion of that game," Dunn said of the push in the third period. "It's not always going to be perfect but I thought the guys did what we had to do and guys came up in big places at really big times of the game."

After another power play went unconverted by Seattle, the Bruins were incensed that the Kraken were not called for a too many men penalty of their own. Seattle did have six skaters briefly on the ice as Adam Larsson jumped over the boards and quickly jumped back when the puck came his way. Boston slammed sticks on the boards in frustration as they'd not seen a single power play chance yet in the game to Seattle's four.

It didn't appear as it was going to matter as former Kraken Morgan Geekie drove in on Grubauer and powered the puck into the net through a collision with the Seattle goaltender to give Boston a 3-2 lead with 9:14 left to play. 

However, the play was ruled goaltender interference after a Kraken coaches challenge as Geekie's impact was significant against Grubauer. The successful challenge almost meant no extra power play chance for the Bruins.

"We wouldn't have taken a huge gamble at that point in time," Hakstol said. "It looked clear to us and we had good communication, you know, great job by the guys in back. To us, it was, you know, Grubi has an opportunity to make the first save and he does make the first save. He does not have a chance to make the second save. … You never know, but they got it right."

The overturned call gave the Kraken another crack in the door to take advantage. Bjorkstrand won the puck off Brad Marchand at the Boston blue line to create an offensive possession for Seattle. He then positioned himself perfectly for a tip of a Borgen shot from just inside the blue that beat Ullmark to put the Kraken up 3-2 with 5:30 left to play.

But the Bruins would finally get their first power play of the night on an Eberle trip of Pastrňák. And it seemed as though Pastrňák would get his hat trick as a snipe from the right circle beat Grubauer to tie it up at 3-3 with 2:52 remaining. The goal would be credited to Charlie Coyle upon video review.

A late power play for Seattle on a Danton Heinen high-stick of Dunn didn't yield the go-ahead goal as it went to overtime.

Matty Beniers had a terrific drive to the net with a shot that bounced off the crossbar and out. DeBrusk had a breakaway look for Boston that was denied by Grubauer. Both teams had chances but it continued on to the shootout.

Yamamoto beat Ullmark to his glove side and Grubauer stopped Coyle, Charlie McAvoy and Pastrňák in order to give Seattle the 4-3 victory.

The Kings (68 pts) and Nashville Predators (66 pts) currently hold the final two playoff spots in the West. The St. Louis Blues (62 pts), Wild (62 pts), Calgary Flames (61 pts) and Kraken (61 pts) are all giving chase and within reach.

The math is getting pretty difficult for the Kraken with less than two weeks remaining until the trade deadline, but a win against the Bruins keeps Seattle in the conversation for a little while longer at least.