It didn’t really matter what the Carolina Hurricanes did on Wednesday night in their first-ever meeting with the Seattle Kraken.
After a slower start, the Canes dominated the Kraken all over the ice in the final 40 minutes. Still, it wasn’t enough to escape Climate Pledge Arena with a win as the expansion team delivered the Hurricanes their second consecutive loss by a final score of 2-1.
A big early hit from Jamie Oleksiak onto Carolina’s Jesperi Kotkaniemi set the ton for what would be a very physical night in Seattle.
The Kraken controlled play through long stretches of the opening frame, and the Hurricanes were chasing the game and fighting the puck as a result. Carolina caught a number of good breaks around their own net in the early going, and Frederik Andersen was stout.
They bent at points, but they didn’t break, and that allowed them to score the opening goal with under 90 seconds left in the period.
Jordan Staal’s great work behind the Seattle net forced the puck out to the blue line, and a nifty behind-the-back pass from Tony DeAngelo set up Brendan Smith for a long-range wrister that worked its way through traffic and by Philipp Grubauer.
The first period was a bit of a slog for the Canes, but things changed dramatically in the second.
The Hurricanes were dominant at 5-on-5 from start to finish, but they couldn’t break through on their numerous high-danger chances.
Both teams had a power play in the middle frame, starting with an early holding call on Jaccob Slavin that led to the game-tying goal. Jared McCann beat Andersen from the top of the left circle and tied the game at one goal apiece.
After a brief charge from Seattle following the goal, it was all Carolina through the rest of the period. They swarmed the Kraken in waves, with the newly-formed trio of Kotkaniemi, Martin Necas, and Nino Niederreiter leading the way.
Grubauer stood on his head through long stretches of the lopsided period, which reached its peak after Morgan Geekie hooked Andrei Svechnikov near the halfway point of the period.
It was almost two full minutes of the Hurricanes doing everything but scoring. A combination of huge saves, blocked shots, and missed shots plagued them as they failed to regain the lead.
They kept their foot down in the second half of the period, but Seattle survived the middle 20 despite giving up nine scoring chances and a whopping 1.6 expected goals to Carolina at 5-on-5.
The Hurricanes kept mounting pressure in the third period, but they continued to get the same results.
The Kotkaniemi line produced a couple of good chances in the opening minutes, and then Sebastian Aho’s line knocked on the door twice on the same shift, but Jordan Martinook bobbled a grade-a chance and then got shut down by Grubauer on another opportunity.
The frustration boiled over for the Hurricanes and Svechnikov near the midway point of the third period. Svechnikov and Vincent Dunn exchanged shoves in the corner of the Seattle zone. Svechnikov prematurely dropped his gloves to fight and got handed an instigator penalty in addition to the matching five-minute majors.
The Kraken didn’t score on their power play, but they managed to deliver a dagger shortly after that.
With just 3:08 left in the game, Marcus Johansson wrapped a puck behind the Carolina net and fired a puck through the legs of a covering Jaccob Slavin, right by a self-screening Necas, and by the short side of Andersen to make it a 2-1 game.
Carolina pulled Andersen with 1:30 to go, but they couldn’t get a second puck by Grubauer, who almost singlehandedly stole a win for the Kraken in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
For the first time in 2021-22, the Hurricanes have lost consecutive games, and it happened at the back-end of a six-game road trip.
The team will close out its road trip on Friday in Philadelphia.