SEATTLE — The Chicago Blackhawks had two things they wanted to accomplish Wednesday: stop a 17-game road losing streak and help goalie Arvid Söderblom avenge his last start in Seattle.
It all went out the window in half a period.
Jared McCann cracked the scoreboard 4 minutes, 34 seconds in, and Jaden Schwartz made it 2-0 for the Kraken just 2:38 later. It took on shades of the Dec. 14 game at Climate Pledge Arena, in which the Kraken torched Söderblom for seven goals before Petr Mrázek relieved him.
But 16 seconds into the second period, in a moment that perfectly symbolizes the Hawks’ road fortunes lately, Jones banked a below-the-goal-line pass off Alex Vlasic’s skate and it ricocheted off Söderblom’s skate into the Hawks net. The goal was marked as an own goal and credited to Alex Wennberg.
Later, the Hawks’ 32nd-ranked power play finally came through. Nick Foligno tapped in a backdoor goal 39 seconds into the third period to cut the deficit to 4-2. But soon after, the Hawks turned a potential breakaway goal into calamity.
Ryan Donato’s backhand attempt was stymied by goalie Joey Daccord, and the Kraken sprang a counterattack off the miss. Jordan Eberle stretched Tomas Tatar on a breakaway the other way and — wham — 5-2 Kraken.
What was that about symbolism again?
Tatar tickled the twine again with 3:38 left and the Kraken won 6-2.
“It’s just not good enough defensively,” Anderson said. “We had more chances tonight to score, but you can’t give up the stuff we were giving up defensively. The looks we’re giving up (to the Kraken), you can’t give those up and trade for offense. It’s got to come the right way.”
Hawks coach Luke Richardson credited Daccord but added, “We’re just having trouble burying goals.”
The Hawks have scored more than two goals only twice this month, both in wins.
They probably needed that — and more — Thursday against the red-hot Edmonton Oilers, who entered on a 14-game winning streak.
“It’s a good challenge for us,” Richardson said. “They’re a big powerhouse and we’ve got to be pretty much near perfect. We cannot have a miscue against them.
Conversely, the Hawks’ winless streak on the road was extended to 18 games.
“We sometimes come out a little bit flatter than at home, so we’ve got to work on that to get better starts,” Philipp Kurashev said. “And that’s going to help us.”
Here are five takeaways from the loss.
1. Which was the bigger heartbreaker?
Was it the Jones own goal or Tatar winning the battle of the breakaways against Donato?
The Hawks leaned toward Tatar’s goal because they had just rallied with Foligno’s power-play goal and it would’ve been 4-3 had Donato scored.
“That’s a momentum breaker there,” Richardson said. “That takes a little bit of the wind out of the sails, for sure.”
Donato agreed that was a big momentum swing.
“We get that chance offensively, (but) we can’t take our guard down just because it didn’t go in,” he said. “We need five guys to stay dialed in defensively and not let a guy get in behind us.
“Tatar’s behind them right after that breakaway, and they mailed it up to him and he made good on his chance, but it should never get to that. It was just sloppy.”
That’s not to say Jones’ pinball pass into the Hawks net hurt any less.
“Yeah, that’s a bad bounce,” Anderson said.
Richardson said it was a tough play for Jones to execute.
“He’s trying to give it to (Jason) Dickinson there and it goes off Vlasy’s foot,” he said.
Richardson said perhaps Jones could’ve bumped a pass off the wall to the weak side, away from danger, but “sometimes we have to be a little more comfortable holding on to pucks down in those corners until we have an out.”
2. Arvid Söderblom’s night wasn’t quite as bad as the box score.
Last time in Seattle, Söderblom looked rattled, giving up seven goals on 24 shots before he was pulled.
Six goals allowed doesn’t sound much better, but it came on 28 shots and he had stretches when he looked steady.
“Young goaltender getting some reps in,” Richardson said. “He made some really good saves, looked very confident out there. I’m sure he doesn’t like that one (by Wennberg) that goes off a foot to start off the second period when we thought we maybe got a little momentum back, but that’s the way it goes.”
The Hawks usually find a way to play their worst defense when Söderblom is in net (not that he hasn’t given up some softies).
“It’s hard,” Kurashev said. “The goals we give up, I don’t think he can do much on those. We’ve got to do a better job for him. We can’t give up those free chances, the breakaways and all that, odd-man rushes all the time.”
Söderblom’s winless streak has grown to 10 starts.
“The looks they were getting, any goalie’s letting those in,” Anderson said. “So it’s not on him tonight.”
3. It was a less-than-stellar night for Alex Vlasic.
Vlasic usually avoids finding himself on the business end of a big inning, so to speak, but tonight wasn’t his night as he was on the ice for three Kraken goals.
On Schwartz’s goal, the Kraken winger sneaked up behind Vlasic to get to the crease and deflected in Andre Burakovsky’s shot. Vlasic also was the unlucky Hawk in the way of Jones’ defensive-zone pass on Wennberg’s goal, but that was completely Jones’ mistake.
On the plus side, Vlasic drew a holding penalty on Burakovsky and the Hawks cashed in with Foligno’s power-play goal.
“He does so many good things and covers up for so many people, other miscues, I’m not sure if he can do too much more tonight,” Richardson said. “He’s probably minus-3 on the game sheet, but I don’t think he’s directly responsible for any of the goals.”
4. Lukas Reichel was scratched again.
The young forward, who has just three goals and six assists in 45 games, was scratched for a second straight game and third time this season.
Richardson said Reichel will draw into the lineup for at least one of the two remaining games on this trip, but for now he can benefit from watching.
“I sat with him this morning and showed him some clips and talked about his game,” Richardson said. “He agrees and he’s eager to get back in there, but another game looking from above will give him a bit of perspective and sink in what he has to do.
“Defensively, he’s not terrible. He’s got a high minus rating, but not everything is his fault defensively.”
Reichel stands at a team-worst minus-26. Offensively, he failed to record a shot on goal in four of his last five games.
“He’s just got to find his game and be more take-charge and shooting pucks and controlling pucks a little bit more on the rush and in the offensive zone,” Richardson said.
5. Czech, please!
Mrázek, who celebrated a two-year contract extension Wednesday, said he and his wife have found Chicago to be a “really fun city.”
“We live downtown, so the restaurants are good around (his neighborhood) and you can walk everywhere,” he said.
But any “home cooking” will have to come from home. The Ostrava, Czechia, native didn’t seem warm to the idea of trying any of the city’s Czech fare.
“There is one (restaurant) that we don’t go to, it’s not downtown,” he said. “I think it’s closer to the airport but we don’t go there.”