The Seattle Kraken earned a chippy victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night, winning 5-2 on the back of Jordan Eberle’s natural hat trick. The Kraken climbed to a 4-6-1 record while the Sabres have fallen to 5-4-1.
The Sabres are still reeling from the blockbuster trade that sent ex-captain Jack Eichel to the Vegas Golden Knights. None of the players they received in return were available for their tilt with the Kraken. Seattle performed well, but there’s always room for growth. You know the drill. Here are three takeaways from last night’s game.
Kraken Dominate Again, This Time With Goal Support
The Kraken continue to control play, out-chancing and outshooting their opponents. They just haven’t received much goal support. But against the Sabres, they scored five goals (one empty-netter), and while three were by one player, it could be a sign that the “big guns” are waking up. Morgan Geekie, Eberle and Jaden Schwartz scored against the Sabres, and Schwartz finished with three points.
The Kraken outshot the Sabres 38-21, with 30 in the first two periods. They had a 58.16 Corsi for percentage and 64.29 scoring chances for percentage (SCF%). They need to keep using their gritty, physical play and speed to drive play.
Their goaltending should hold up if their skaters keep converting on their chances. If they find consistency, they could find themselves going on a productive swim through their next few games.
Eberle Scores Inaugural Kraken Hat Trick
After a six-game goal drought to start the season, Eberle has five in his past five games. Three were against the Sabres for the first hat trick in Kraken history. He’s had his chances, boasting a 59.46 CF% and a 61.54 SCF% at all strengths, and now he’s starting to capitalize.
Considering the Kraken have had issues scoring goals, this is huge. He will be leaned on as one of the Kraken’s go-to scorers. We know he’s capable as a five-time 20-goal scorer and has scored over 30 in a season.
Schwartz scored his second of the season, an empty-netter, and has goals in two straight games. If he catches some of Eberle’s fire, the Kraken should regain some ground in the Pacific Division.
Kraken Need To Improve in Faceoff Dot
Every coin has two sides, and the Kraken need to improve on their faceoffs. They won 41% of their faceoffs against the Sabres, and after giving up a power-play goal on three attempts, being deficient in the circle could be dangerous down the line.
The Kraken rank 25th in the NHL, having won 46.9% of faceoffs. Yanni Gourde and Alex Wennberg won over 50% of their attempts against the Sabres, while Riley Sheahan and Morgan Geekie were under 40%. While the team came away with the win, they must emphasize improving in this area over the coming weeks.
Brandon Tanev played 16:08 and just under three minutes on the penalty kill. He had four shots, multiple breakaways and five hits to lead all skaters. He had eight scoring chances for and three against, all after getting stitches in his head from taking a puck up-high during warmups. That’s a hockey guy, and the Kraken faithful appreciated it.
Jamie Oleksiak was a horse shorthanded and skated a 2:48 shift with under five minutes left in the game to help secure the win. He contributed on both sides of the puck with a primary assist on Schwartz’s empty-netter, four hits, two shots, a block and a takeaway. He stood up for himself by fighting John Hayden after a hard hit on Zemgus Girgensons.
The Kraken scored shortly after the tilt, and the physicality and chippiness continued. They outhit the Sabres 20-16, with Oleksiak’s four hits second only to Tanev.
First Trip to the Desert Is a Must-Win
No disrespect intended, but this game is a must-win for the Kraken. The Arizona Coyotes will be playing the second half of a back-to-back after visiting the Anaheim Ducks on Friday. It’s not the farthest trip, but it’s travel nonetheless.
The Coyotes are the only winless team in the league. They’ve scored the fewest number of goals while giving up the most. They’ll try to stop the hemorrhaging by claiming former New Jersey Devils goalie Scott Wedgewood off waivers on Thursday. However, the Kraken are getting tons of chances and starting to take advantage of them. But they aren’t in a position to drop a game to, statistically, the worst team in the league and shake it off as a “bad game.” If the Kraken want to build on their win against the Sabres, they need to keep it rolling against the Coyotes.
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.