The Seattle Kraken ended its six-game losing streak with a valiant 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Sunday. After some sloppy play the past few games, the Kraken appear to have their confidence back. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer played his best game of the season so far with a .949 save percentage (SV%) and forward Jaden Schwartz led the way on offence with four points (one goal, three assists). Sunday’s victory could mark a major turning point in Seattle’s season and give the team hope going forward.
Kraken Take Down the Third-Best Team in the NHL
The Kraken’s big win over the Capitals, who rank third in the NHL standings, is a huge confidence boost for a team that struggled early this season. Shutting down Washington’s high-powered offence, led by world-renowned sniper Alex Ovechkin, is no easy feat, but the Kraken found a way to hand the Capitals its third regulation loss in 19 games.
Grubauer was the star of the show for Seattle on Sunday. Facing off against the Capitals, with who he won the Stanley Cup with in 2018, he turned aside 37 of 39 shots for a season-high .949 SV%. The 29-year-old goaltender has struggled lately, posting sub-.900 SV% in five-straight games heading into his matchup with Washington. A huge win, which featured some highlight-reel saves, should give him a huge boost of confidence and help him get back to being one of the best puck-stoppers in the league. Just last season, he was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender. If he can keep the momentum going with Seattle, expect Grubauer to play a big role in turning the Kraken’s season around.
Among the Kraken’s skaters, Schwartz made the biggest impression against the Capitals. His goal and three assists in the game moved him into the team lead for points, with 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in 18 games. The 29-year-old forward is riding a hot streak, tallying eight points (two goals, six assists) through his last five games. His season is taking a great turn following a slow start that only saw him post one assist and no goals in his first six games of the season. Schwartz’ offensive production will be essential to the Kraken’s success if the team manages to save the season after a rocky start.
Kraken Players Are Settling in and Building Confidence
The Kraken convincingly beat a stacked Capitals roster, and the win will likely go a long way in helping Seattle discover and live up to its full potential. The Capitals held an 11-2-5 record heading into Sunday’s matchup, while the Kraken sat 31st in the league with a 4-12-1 start to its inaugural season. Despite the lopsided records, Seattle was quite clearly the better team in the game.
Nine Kraken players tallied points on Sunday, which included Schwartz’ four-point performance as well as a goal and assist each from Yanni Gourde and Calle Jarnkrok. In the game prior, a 7-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, Seattle’s offence didn’t come to life until the third period, where it scored three times in a dominant final frame. It’s refreshing to see a full 60-minute effort by the Kraken, and the fans at Climate Pledge Arena made sure the team heard their approval. Set to take on the Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers in its next three games, Seattle will need to build off its recent momentum to take down more of the league’s top teams.
The Kraken’s next game is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. PT when Seattle hosts the Hurricanes. With two days off between Sunday’s win and the next puck drop, the Kraken look to continue establishing confidence as a group. The team is just 18 games into its inaugural season, and the players know it is far from over. It will be interesting to see how things go the rest of the way after seeing Seattle’s capabilities against Ovechkin and the Capitals.
Tom Pepper is an NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers. He lives in Toronto and is a diehard fan of the St. Louis Blues.