Despite a strong effort, the Seattle Kraken suffered their first-ever postseason loss as they fell 3-2 against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 of their first-round series. After going up 2-0 in the first period, the Kraken allowed three straight goals over the final 40 minutes as the Avalanche showed just how dominant they can be. Seattle now returns home with a much-needed split as this best-of-seven series turns into a best-of-five.
While Game 1 was exciting, Game 2 took the intensity to another level as both teams demonstrated their speed and physicality throughout the contest. These two teams match up well, which has allowed them to produce two of the best games of the postseason so far. Here are three takeaways from Game 2.
A Clean, Physical Game Start To Finish
From the first hit seven seconds into the first all the way to the final buzzer, this was a physical game that featured 90 total hits and all but seven skaters registering at least one over the 60 minutes. For the second straight night, the Kraken recorded 40, while the Avalanche saw their total rise from 29 in Game 1 to 50 in Game 2. Brandon Tanev, who blew a kiss to the crowd after scoring a shorthanded goal in the first, led Seattle with five hits over his 11:23 of ice time, while Artturi Lehkonen, Erik Johnson and Cale Makar were tied for the Colorado lead with six each on the night.
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Despite the high level of physicality, Game 2 was played pretty cleanly, with no questionable hits and very few scrums after the whistle. The teams combined for a total of 16 penalty minutes, which, compared to the other series, is less than some individual players received in one game. The lack of penalties also allowed the game to flow, creating sequences of end-to-end rushes and turnovers that led to high-danger scoring chances. This game was arguably the most exciting of the night, with the two teams’ physicality playing a large part in what made Game 2 one of the best of the 2023 Playoffs so far.
Grubauer Stands On His Head Again
After stopping 34 of 35 shots during Game 1’s victory, Philipp Grubauer once again put in a performance to remember stopping 38 of 41 shots in the loss. The former Avalanche goaltender was square to the puck and faced just five rebound shots all game as he did everything he could to keep Seattle in the game for as long as possible. This was the first time he has allowed three or more goals since March 27, 2023, and the third time he has made 38 or more saves this season.
Going into the series, the main question surrounding the Kraken was whether one of their goaltenders would rise to the occasion and provide strong enough goaltending to keep the Avalanche’s high-flying offence at bay. So far, Grubauer has proven he can as the trio of Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen have been held to one goal and two assists despite generating 27 shots on goal over the two games. He is holding up his end of the bargain; now it is time for Seattle’s top guys to find the back of the net and not waste goaltending performances as we saw in Game 2.
Kraken’s Second Line Was Their Best
While the line of Morgan Geekie, Alex Wennberg and Jaden Schwartz did not get on the scoresheet, they were by far the Kraken’s best trio outshooting the Avalanche 7-4 and holding an expected goals for percentage (XGF%) of 82.54% in their 10:48 of even-strength ice time together. In comparison, when all three were on the bench, the Kraken were outshot 14 to 20 at even strength and finished the night with an XGF% of 34.48. The trio also created three high-danger chances while giving up zero as they spent most of the night matched up against Colorado’s second line of Rantanen, J.T. Compher and Valeri Nichushkin.
With the series shifting back to Seattle, it will be interesting to see how coach Dave Hakstol matches up his lines with the last change on faceoffs. This trio has been arguably the Kraken’s best line over the two games, but there may be more of an inclination to try and get them some matchups against Colorado’s bottom six so they can create a bit more offence over the next two games.
Kraken With Great Opportunity Coming Back To Seattle
With the series tied at one and the Kraken faithful ready to give Seattle the ultimate home-ice advantage, the Kraken need to find a way to capitalize at Climate Pledge Arena. While they were a better team on the road this season, the same can be said about Colorado, whose 29 road victories this year ranked second in the league, only behind the Boston Bruins. If the first two games of this series were any indication, Games 3 and 4 are sure to be exciting as Seattle will be looking for their first-ever home victory in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.