Kraken thumped in 5-2 loss to Flames

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JANUARY 27: Elias Lindholm #28 of the Calgary Flames scores against the Seattle Kraken during the first period at Climate Pledge Arena on January 27, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Elias Lindholm and Blake Coleman each had a goal and two assists as the Seattle Kraken were thumped by the Calgary Flames in a 5-2 loss on Friday night.

Seattle allowed three straight goals in the first period and chased a Flames team that seemed eager to bounce back from a 5-1 home loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Calgary the night before. The Kraken were out-shot 16-6 in the first period and 28-14 through the first two periods as the Flames controlled play most of the night.

"We didn't make it real hard on them," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "I'm not taking anything away from them, believe me, not in any way, shape or form. But you know, we didn't have any pace to our game. Our puck play was sloppy. Anything that we put into the zone on the forecheck we had very little speed on to so that allowed for a lot of easy exits for them. I don't want to get into every every detail of the game. We weren't very good tonight."

Calgary leads the NHL in shots on goal and Martin Jones faced a barrage of shots through the first two periods of the game. 

Flames goaltender Dan Vladar stopped 28 of 30 shots from Seattle. Vladar is now 13-0-3 in his last 16 starts and hasn't lost a game in regulation since Nov. 26 to the Carolina Hurricanes.

"We weren't there today," winger Eeli Tolvanen said. "We played really sloppy in the first and second and we weren't creating much. So we're lucky that we have a game tomorrow and we can flush it away."

The Kraken actually delivered the opening salvo as John Hayden redirected a shot from Will Borgen by Dan Vladar to give Seattle a 1-0 lead. It's Hayden's first goal for the Kraken in his second appearance with the team after signing as a free agent this offseason. 

Hayden was in the lineup due to the absence of Matty Beniers, who was injured in Wednesday's win over the Vancouver Canucks.

"It's a winning business. So would have been great to get the win tonight," Hayden said.

The rest of the period swung heavily in Calgary's favor.

Lindholm chipped a perfectly placed saucer pass from Tyler Toffoli behind Jones to even the game at 1-1 less than two minutes later.

Toffoli had a wide open net off a rebound shot from Coleman that made it 2-1 and Nikita Zodorov found space in front of the net and finished a great pass from Lindholm with just 4.5 second left in the period to take a 3-1 lead into the break.

Toffoli has now scored in each of Calgary's three games against Seattle this year.

"I just think it was an incomplete effort," Hayden said. Lost too much of the game, missing out on some of the fundamentals. And this team's had a ton of success in January and it seems like tonight was sort of an anomaly.

"I think tonight we weren't predictable. A lot of plays in the neutral zone that went the wrong way."

Just over five minutes in the second period, Yanni Gourde took a slap shot from Michael Stone off the inside of his right foot and fell to the ice. He was unable to put weight on the leg and couldn't skate to the bench, eventually leading to a stoppage of play. Gourde needed assistance to the bench and down the tunnel. 

However, Gourde was back on the ice three minutes later as part of the penalty kill unit and finished the game for Seattle.

"It's huge. He battles through whatever. He's that kind of guy. He's a team guy and it tells a lot about him. You know, it doesn't matter if it's a big slap shot in his ankle, he's coming back no matter what," Tolvanen said of Gourde.

Added Hakstol: "When you have a guy like that put that kind of effort in – I'm not sure how he was when he took his boot off. I'm sure it doesn't feel real good. – But again, you know, you love to see that."

Calgary took three penalties in the second period with the Kraken unable to capitalize on the advantage. Without Beniers, the second power play unit had trouble even gaining control in the Flames zone and resorted to dumping the puck in instead of trying to gain entry cleanly across the blue line.

With Zodorov in the box for interference in the third period, the Kraken appeared to get a power play goal to trim the deficit. Alex Wennberg hammered a rebound of a Jared McCann net drive only to have the goal reversed on a challenge for goaltender interference.

Tolvanen finally did claw a goal back for Seattle less than two minutes later. A blocker save from Vladar on Oliver Bjorkstrand found Tolvanen and he found the open net for his seventh goal in 14 games with Seattle.

The Flames then had a quick response to restore the two goal lead. Noah Hanifin's one-timer found the net through the legs of Jones to make it a 4-2 game just 1:04 after Tolvanen's goal.

"It's actually pretty amazing we had a one goal hockey game," Hakstol said. "We're one shot away from tying this thing up. That does say something about this group, but, again, at the end of the day, you can twist and turn this thing any which way you want but we weren't very good."

Jones made 33 saves on 37 shots for Seattle in the loss.

The Kraken had a chance to take the solo lead in the Pacific Division after the Vegas Golden Knights lost 4-1 to the New York Rangers earlier in the night. Instead, both Seattle and Vegas are one point back of the Los Angeles Kings, who beats the Florida Panthers 4-3. The Kraken do hold the edge on points percentage having played three fewer games than the Kings.

Seattle hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday for their final game before the All-Star break. The Blue Jackets currently carry the worst record in the NHL at 15-31-3 (33 pts). 

With Beniers, Gourde, Jaden Schwartz and Justin Schultz all dealing with injuries, a week break seems to be coming at the right time for Seattle.