Fans in Seattle will get their first look at the “Great 8,” Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, on Sunday night.
It’s likely they’d rather see a Kraken victory.
Seattle is mired in a six-game losing streak during which it has allowed 31 goals. That includes a 7-3 loss to the visiting Colorado Avalanche on Friday night when the expansion Kraken scored the final three goals of the game.
“We are finding ways to lose,” said Jordan Eberle, who scored his team-leading ninth goal in the loss. “We can still turn this around to be a competitive team.”
The Kraken allowed a power-play goal and a short-handed goal in the opening 6:39 and never recovered. Seattle is 0-9-0 when trailing at the end of the first period.
“We’re getting down in games, and we’re not helping ourselves when we get down,” captain Mark Giordano said. “We’re taking more chances when we get down. Against good teams, they are going to make you pay. You’re giving them odd-man rushes. You’re giving them a lot of zone time on their chances because we’re taking way too many risks too early in the game.”
Goaltender Chris Driedger, making just his second start of the season after coming off the injured list, was pulled after allowing four goals on 13 shots. Philipp Grubauer, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season with Colorado, made 14 saves on 17 shots against his former team.
Grubauer, signed as a free agent in the offseason, has the worst save percentage (.875) in the league among goalies who have played 10 or more games. Driedger’s is even worse at .791, though he’s appeared just three times.
Forward Colin Blackwell, who scored his first goal of the season, wasn’t having a question about the Kraken’s goaltending in the postgame media conference.
“I’m going to stop you right there,” Blackwell said. “It has nothing to do with (Grubauer) or (Driedger). They’ve worked their (butt) off every single day when they come to the rink.
“We’re a team, so it’s a unit of five, six. Guys like that, that’s why it’s tough to play the position. They always get the lashing by people on the outside.”
Ovechkin had two goals and an assist Saturday night as the Capitals won 4-0 at San Jose to extend their points streak to seven games (6-0-1). Conor Sheary also tallied twice and Ilya Samsonov made 22 saves for the shutout, his second in a row after blanking the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 Wednesday.
“He had a couple of other bombs that just didn’t go in,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said of Ovechkin.
The 36-year-old Ovechkin has 14 goals this season, tied for second in the league behind Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl, who has 18. Ovechkin’s 744 career goals rank fourth behind Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801) and Jaromir Jagr (766).
His first goal Saturday came on the power play, giving him 272 in his career with the man advantage. Only Dave Andreychuk (274) has more.
Ovechkin added an empty-netter with a little more than a minute to play.
Sunday will mark the first game for the Capitals at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena.
“I think the guys are excited to go there and check it out,” Laviolette said.
None more so than forward T.J. Oshie, who grew up in the Seattle area. Oshie played Saturday for the first time since Oct. 27 because of a leg injury and had an assist.
–Field Level Media