scheduled tribe. LOUIS – The margin for error was already too slim in one night, with Kraken giving their powerhouse opponents several extra chances.
The biggest in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues was the Kraken’s inability to avoid the penalty box against one of the league’s best power-play units. This only cost them one goal in six Blues power-play opportunities, but in this case any scoring was difficult and the lack of equal-power opportunities made it difficult for the Kraken to build up momentum.
By the time Jordan Eberle got them on board in the middle of the game, the Kraken were already down a pair after a second-period strike by Robert Thomas’ power-play marker and Justin Faulk. Kraken goalkeeper Chris Drigger did his best to keep his team in it, making several highlight-reel stops in the opening round and a few more before Eberle came on board.
But it was as close as the Kraken struggled to gain home ice advantage in the opening playoff round against the Blues team. Jordan Cairo would score early in the third and Ryan O’Reilly ended things with a blank-net goal, with Drizzer pulling for an extra attacker.
Eberle’s second-period goal from a rebound of a redirected Will Borgen shot propelled Kraken, which by that point had been outplayed in the mid-frame. He took the play to the blues for the remainder of that period and had a golden opportunity to tie it late when Morgan Geeky was let loose on a long breakaway pass.
But Geeky was too slow to stick to the net and was caught from behind and knocked out by Nick Lady. Moments later, Carson Sousi took a cross-checking penalty in the final minute, and Kraken was again forced to open a man’s bottom third.
They managed to hit that one, but the Blues continued the momentum and Kyro restored the home team’s two-goal lead barely a minute later.
The Blues, for their part, took no penalty unless there were less than five minutes to go into regulation. He killed it immediately.
The Kraken entered the night knowing they would need to avoid the penalty box as much as possible against a Blues team, the NHL’s second highest power play conversion rate at over 26%. But Junas Donskoy was called out for tripping in just three minutes, followed by a Jared McCann high-sticking double minor just seconds after the opening violation was hit.
The Kraken had the most dangerous scoring chances in the first three minutes of McCann’s assassination. But the Blues eventually set up on the Kraken’s end and Thomas would take a pass into the left circle and wrist the puck behind Drizzer for the opening goal.
Drider was the only reason Kraken was not down 2-0 or 3-0 at halftime. First, he clearly saved Cairo a leg on the breakaway, then he used his glove to backhand a puck out of harm’s way as it headed into the open right side of the net.
Riley Sheehan would help save another goal at the start of the second period, clearing away a puck just before O’Reilly got it in the face with an open net. But moments later, Brayden would send a graceful cross-ice pass through Sheenie Gourde’s legs and onto Faulk’s wand. Without hesitation, he tossed it from behind the dredger into the far corner of the net.
Two goals down, Kraken responded quickly as Donato kept a play alive in the St. Louis zone and fed a pass to Borgen. The ensuing redirect shot came at a slower pace than goalkeeper Ville Husso and was down and out when the rebound went straight to Eberle for Kraken’s only goal.
But they won’t come close.