What’s allowing Seattle Kraken to have success in OT, close games?

Nov 22, 2022, 1:55 PM | Updated: Feb 5, 2023, 3:39 pm

Seattle Kraken...

Matty Beniers of the Seattle Kraken celebrates with the team after the overtime game against the New York Rangers on November 17, 2022. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

There are several reasons that the Kraken are off to a stellar 10-5-3 start to the 2022-2023 season. They are deeper than they were during their inaugural season, they’re scoring more, playing a stiffer defensive game, and getting solid goaltending. That has certainly led to more wins and more importantly allowed them to win overtime and other close games.

Playing close to home, Kraken newcomer Justin Schultz having big impact

The ability to win close games was on display this past weekend when they beat the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings in consecutive overtime games. It was a good sign for the team’s future outlook.

“I think I think it’s important to play these games and feel comfortable,” Kraken winger Jordan Eberle said moments after winning the game against the Kings with an overtime goal. “That’s the biggest thing. I think we’re doing a better job of that. Once you get into the postseason, a lot of games are close. You have to feel comfortable in the uncomfortable situations and this is just a good test to do that. And also, it speaks words for how we’re in every match. You want to keep doing that, you’re gonna have a good chance to win every night.”

Through 18 games this season, Seattle has a 6-1-1 record when the game is tied after the first period. Last season they were 9-12-5. When tied after two periods this year they are off to a 4-1-2 record, already winning half of the games they did last season (8-8-3) when the game came down to the final period.

Response goals were an issue last season as well. The Kraken had a knack for scoring a goal only to have the opponent immediately answer with a goal of their own. Conversely, they rarely had the ability to answer a goal against them.

This season, with the additions of Andre Burakovsky, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Justin Schultz on the backend, along with a full season of rookie Matty Beniers they have the offensive skill to answer. It’s kept them from digging a hole that can’t be climbed out of and allowed them to stay in games longer and come back.

“This is the blueprint, we’re going to be in a lot of these,” Kraken coach Hakstol said after last Sunday’s win. “Having the confidence, making sure you play through them is really important. It’s a matter of playing hard for 60 or 60-plus minutes but there’s some patience during the game. When you’re playing against a team that is really good defensively, which (the Kings are), they don’t give up much. There’s nothing easy inside, there’s nothing easy off the rush so you have to make sure you don’t beat yourself.”

Out of 18 games so far, 11 the Kraken have played have been decided by one goal or less. Hakstol is right, Seattle has and will play in a lot of close games the remainder of the season. Learning how to win is a positive.

Success in overtime

Coming into the season the Kraken were not a good 3-on-3 overtime team. They only came out on top once last year in overtime and lost their first three chances this year.

Hakstol recognized the problem and in the two days of practice prior to the game against the New York Rangers this past week they worked on it. Two days that featured intense 3-on-3 scrimmages, on short ice, were meant to help the players realize the situation as well as work on line changes with the puck

It’s rare that you see something worked on in practice and then see results as quickly as we saw them on Thursday and then again on Saturday as the Kraken won back-to-back overtime decisions.

“To be honest with you we practiced 3-on-3 yesterday and the day before and it was huge, we felt more confident going into it,” Jared McCann said after Thursday’s overtime win against the Rangers. “Don’t need to force it, hold on to it, it’s puck possession time of the game. You’ve got to hold on to it, make the right plays and wait for your chances.”

The last two wins for Seattle were close games that were decided in overtime. Here’s a breakdown of how they played out.

Thursday, Seattle 3, New York 2 in OT

After the two teams played to a 1-1 tie in the game’s first period, the Kraken owned the second. Seattle outshot the Rangers 17-5 but could not solve all-world goalie Igor Shesterkin. Not being able to score despite controlling the play can be frustrating but the Kraken were not deterred.

Just Schultz scored nine minutes into the third period, giving Seattle a lead heading into the stretch run of the game. New York would get a late power play and tie the game up with under two minutes left when Vincent Trocheck cashed in on the power play.

This is a scenario that would have sunk the Kraken a year ago. But in this one, the Kraken would put it away just over three minutes into the overtime. Eberle drove the net which brought the defense and Shesterkin to him. He flung the puck out to Schultz who scored for the second time.

Schultz scores 2, including OT winner, to lead Kraken past Rangers

Saturday, Seattle 3, Los Angeles 2 in OT

Saturday’s game looked for sure like the Kraken were sunk. Tied at 1-1 heading into the third period, the Kings scored while short-handed by Trever Moore just 35 seconds in. Short-handed goals are killers and usually suck up all the momentum of the game.

The Kraken had an answer that they wouldn’t have had a year ago. Just 13 seconds later, on the same power play, it was Daniel Sprong who scored to tie the game back up.

It would go into overtime again, the third straight game Seattle played to do so. It was Eberle and Schultz again, only the roles were reversed. Schultz made a play deep in the Kraken end that sent Eberle out on a 2-on-1 with Brandon Tanev. Eberle looked Tanev’s way but would shoot it himself for the game-winner.

Two close games that had negative things happen to the Kraken that would have provided a reason to get down, drop their heads, and accept their fate. That’s how it would have played out last season but this Kraken team is starting to show that they can win these close games and it’s encouraging for the remainder of the season.

Eberle scores in OT, Kraken beat Kings 3-2 for 7th win in 9

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What’s allowing Seattle Kraken to have success in OT, close games?