HOCKEY

Sharks slowly improving with Seattle Kraken coming to town

Jan 30, 2024, 6:04 AM | Updated: 7:22 am

Alex Wennberg #21 of the Seattle Kraken shoots against San Jose Sharks during the second period at ...

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 22: Alex Wennberg #21 of the Seattle Kraken shoots against San Jose Sharks during the second period at Climate Pledge Arena on November 22, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The San Jose Sharks dug quite a hole for themselves at the start of the season, going 0-10-1 through their first 11 games. Although it is still tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for the fewest points in the NHL, San Jose at least has been showing signs of progress lately.

The Sharks will try to continue building momentum ahead of the All-Star break when they play host to the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday night.

San Jose had won a season-high three games in a row and took a two-goal lead on Saturday before falling 5-2 to the visiting Buffalo Sabres.

“It looked like we thought it was going to be easy,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “I thought we came out with a lot of energy, a lot of pace. And then all of a sudden, we get up 2-0 and it was funny how it just changed. We got away from skating and competing and playing responsibly, and we weren’t able to get it back.”

Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Jan Rutta scored in the opening 11 minutes for the Sharks, but Buffalo tied things by the end of the first period, scored the go-ahead goal in the second and added two more markers in the third. William Eklund had two assists for San Jose, and goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen made 31 saves.

“A good start by us, scored on some chances that we got. But I don’t think we did enough around their net,” Sharks captain Logan Couture said. “Didn’t make it as hard on the goaltender as we would have liked to, and gave them a few chances in our defensive zone.”

Sharks defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin made his NHL debut on Saturday, recording three shots and one hit in 19:21 on the ice. Mukhamadullin, the 20th overall pick in the 2020 draft by New Jersey, was acquired as part of a deal for Timo Meier last February.

The Kraken, who overcame their own slow start to the season (2-5-2), pulled within two points of the second and final wild-card spot in the Western Conference with a 4-2 victory against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

Jordan Eberle had two goals and an assist, Jared McCann added one of each and Joey Daccord made 30 saves.

The Kraken are 2-0-1 over their past three games, with the overtime loss coming after blowing a two-goal lead against the St. Louis Blues on Friday.

“We were disappointed to lose the point (Friday), but we came back and got the two points (Sunday). Those were critical,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “Anything less, we’d be walking out of this building (Sunday) not feeling very good about ourselves.”

McCann’s goal was his team-leading 20th of the season.

“(Goals) come and they go, right?” McCann said. “You’re going to be hot one minute, and the next, you’re not. I’m just trying to be as consistent as possible. … It’s not always about scoring goals.”

Yegor Chinakhov scored twice in the third period for the Blue Jackets to give the Kraken a few anxious moments before Brandon Tanev sealed the victory with an empty-netter with 13 seconds left.

“We kind of let the game slip away a bit,” McCann said. “We got on our heels and kind of let them take control of the game, and we can’t do that.”

Tuesday marks the second of four meetings between the Kraken and Sharks this season. Seattle beat San Jose 7-1 at home on Nov. 22.

–Field Level Media

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