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Kraken close home schedule vs. Sharks in learning mode

Sportsnaut
Apr 3, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Kraken right wing Jordan Eberle (7) skates with the puck against Dallas Stars center Vladislav Namestnikov (92) during the first period at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s one thing the expansion Seattle Kraken haven’t learned yet, it’s how to play with a lead.

The Kraken (26-48-6, 58 points) have blown two-goal leads in three of their past four games, all losses, heading into their final regular-season home game Friday night against the San Jose Sharks (32-36-13, 77).

Seattle led 2-0 Wednesday against visiting Los Angeles, which wasn’t deploying its normal lineup after having already clinched a playoff berth, yet still lost 5-3.

“We couldn’t get sustained pressure (with the two-goal lead),” Kraken alternate captain Jordan Eberle said. “We had one good shift, bad shift, one good shift, bad shift.

“We were sloppy in the defensive zone. You give a team like that five feet, three feet, they’re able to make plays.”

Eberle noted a game last week in Minnesota, in which the Kraken led 2-0 after the first period only to allow five second-period goals. The same thing happened the next night in Dallas, when the Stars scored three second-period goals to take the lead en route to a 3-2 win.

“We’re going at teams, not shying away,” Eberle said. “We’re bringing plays to them and we’re in their face.

“As soon as we get leads, we sit back a bit. All of a sudden you give space to (opponents) to make plays. That’s when they keep coming at you … you are playing on your heels. We have to find a way in our locker room to figure out ways to go after teams when we have a lead.”

The score was tied at 3-3 heading into the third period Wednesday before the Kings scored twice, including an empty-netter, to win.

The Kraken got a four-minute power play, including nearly two full minutes of a five-on-three, in the third period but failed to capitalize.

“We didn’t spend enough time in the offensive zone, especially with (puck) retrievals,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “We had opportunities that were clear. We just didn’t execute. You don’t need more than one power-play goal most nights (to win).”

The Sharks will be playing the second half of a back-to-back after a 5-4 overtime defeat Thursday night in Edmonton in which they blew a 2-0 lead. Noah Gregor, a native of nearby Beaumont, Alberta, scored twice for San Jose in a 26-second span early in the first period.

“It was nice,” Gregor said. “Lots of family and friends in the crowd, so it’s nice to score a goal at any time in the NHL, but to have it when you’re in your hometown, it’s something special.

“We played strong for most of the game. We had a lot of offensive zone time, which is something we haven’t been able to do a lot throughout the year. So that was a big positive, but just holding on to leads, we couldn’t quite do it … it’s frustrating.”

Logan Couture had two assists and James Reimer made 26 saves for the Sharks, who have lost two in a row.

“It was one of our better games offensively on the cycle, generating chances; there were some positives out of this game,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. “But you get into three-on-three, that’s a recipe for disaster against Edmonton. We had a couple of chances, but you have to play an almost perfect overtime to get this thing to a shootout.”

–Field Level Media