Kraken dig out of early 3-0 hole, still fall in 5-4 loss to Senators

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MARCH 09: Brady Tkachuk #7 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates a goal by Claude Giroux #28 (not pictured) against the Seattle Kraken during the third period at Climate Pledge Arena on March 09, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo

Alex DeBrincat's shot deflected into the net off the skate of Will Borgen's stick with 2:23 left to play as the Seattle Kraken fell 5-4 to the Ottawa Senators.

The Kraken rallied from an early 3-0 deficit and took the lead early in the third period on Vince Dunn tied a career-high with his 16th goal of the season. However, Claude Giroux answered back 38 seconds later to tie the game and DeBrincat's bounce between Philipp Grubauer's legs amounted to a disappointing loss.

"We scored enough tonight. That wasn't the issue," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "You know, we gave up too much. It doesn't have to be a huge volume. It's what we gave up and how we gave it up tonight, especially in the last 10 minutes of the hockey game."

Hakstol pointed to missed plays on battles against the wall and the inability to get the puck out of the defensive zone in the third period. Borgen had a pass intercepted against the glass from Tim Stützle that led to Giroux's tying goal. Giroux then stole the puck on the forecheck in Seattle's end ahead of DeBrincat's game-winner.

"Just like that Boston game there, we have to find a way to close it out at the end or at least push it to overtime," said Dunn, referencing their 6-5 loss to Bruins with a go-ahead goal from Jake DeBrusk with 1:38 left to play. "That's really disappointing and I think a lot of their goals were on us. Just a couple missed plays. It's really disappointing."

The loss was a blow in the playoff picture as well as nearly every team around Seattle in the Western Conference won on Thursday night. The Vegas Golden Knights beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in overtime. The Edmonton Oilers beat Boston 3-2. The Los Angeles Kings beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2, and the Dallas Stars rolled to a 10-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. 

The Oilers pulled even with Seattle at 80 points for the third playoff spot from the Pacific Division. Meanwhile, the Kraken lost ground to Vegas, Los Angeles and Dallas in the conference.

The Stars come to town for a pair of games on Saturday and Monday.

"We need to get every point we can right now," Dunn said. "We're getting very desperate teams. We're getting everyone's best game whether they're out of the race or not. Guys have a lot to show and prove right now. We can't take anyone lightly and we need to make this building a very hard place to play it in the first period at least."

Ottawa is one of those desperate teams and played like it in the first period. After the win over Seattle, the Senators are the first team out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference four points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Shane Pinto slammed home a rebound of a shot from Nick Holden that gave Ottawa the lead just over minutes into the contest. Grubauer made the initial stop but Pinto had a clean look from the front of the net to put the Senators ahead 1-0.

Stützle – who had a hat trick in the first meeting between the two teams in January – helped spark more offense for Ottawa. Stützle led a break into the Seattle zone that collapsed the Kraken defense. A pass to Holden was set on a tee for deadline trade addition Jakob Chychrun, who snapped a wrist shot by Grubauer to extend the Ottawa lead.

Then 17 seconds later it was 3-0 Senators. Grubauer attempted to send a puck around the boards from behind the net only to have it stopped against the glass by Mathieu Joseph. Joseph fed the puck to Patrick Brown and his shot slipped through an unsettled Grubauer as he worked back into position.

"I think a lot of those goals are coming down the slot so that's tough for [Grubauer] to make those saves. He definitely made the ones he needed tonight. It's just disappointing," Dunn said.

The quick goals led to Hakstol using his timeout early to slow the wave.

"Just wasn't good enough. Start wasn't good enough. Didn't come ready. Pretty simple message that if we wanted to get back in the game, we got to figure it out,"said Jared McCann, who scored a pair of goals for Seattle.

It didn't appear immediately destined to help. Jamie Oleksiak was called for interference against Stützle two minutes later to give the Senators a power play. 

However, McCann flipped the script as an Ottawa shot rebounded to McCann to spark a 2-on-1 chance with Yanni Gourde. McCann's shot deflected off goaltender Mads Søgaard and then defenseman Thomas Chabot and into the net for a short-handed goal to get the Kraken on the board.

Early in the second period, a rare face-off win for Seattle led to another goal. Jaden Schwartz tipped a Vince Dunn shot past Søgaard to cut the Ottawa lead to just one.

Then right as a Daniel Sprong holding penalty expired, the Kraken created a rush chance. Sprong jumped into the play out of the box and fired a shot that deflected off McCann's stick by Søgaard to tie the game at 3-3.

Dunn then gave Seattle the lead early in the third period. After managing to keep the puck in the offensive zone, Dunn skated in on net and beat Søgaard with a wrist shot glove side to give the Kraken a 4-3 lead.

The lead lasted just 38 seconds before Giroux's goal tied the game at 4-4.

"We gave ourselves a chance to win. We just need to find a way to do it," Dunn said.

Said McCann: "I feel like we were kind of rushing the play. We didn't have speed getting in on the forecheck. We just kind of gave them free breakouts. We didn't finish checks in the first 20 minutes of the game. They're (defense) was jumping by us and getting odd-man rushes. 

"We talked about it at the beginning of the game. I'm not sure what's happened but we've got to get back to what makes us successful and that's getting on the forecheck, winning the body and we had some guys doing it and some guys not."

After DeBrincat's goal, the Kraken pulled Grubauer with 1:36 left to play and got several chances on net. Three shots were stopped by Søgaard, two more sailed wide and a trio of shots were blocked as Seattle couldn't find a way to send the game to overtime.