History will record that the Seattle Kraken lost their first-ever regulation game by a foot. A mere 35 seconds after Seattle’s Morgan Geekie had tied the game, 3-3, Las Vegas’ Max Pacioretty’s centering pass hit Chandler Stephenson’s skate and bounced into the net. That marker came at 8:33 of the third period and the defending Pacific Conference champion Golden Knights hung for a 4-3 victory.
Under NHL rules, a puck can go off an offensive player’s skate and into the net as long as there’s no kicking motion. Referees Francois St. Laurent and Graham Skilliter went to the video and ruled a good goal, although Stephenson did move his right foot slightly.
“I thought it was a kicking motion,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s a gray area on those calls. Their decision was it’s a good goal.”
The goal spoiled a night where the Kraken displayed a lot of positive signs. Playing in the carnival atmosphere of the Las Vegas strip where cheerleaders dress like showgirls and a Queen cover band stirs up the patrons, Seattle rallied from a 3-0 deficit (Vegas has never lost a game where they led 3-0).
Ryan Donato made history when he tapped home the first Seattle goal at 11:32 of the second period. Less than a minute later, the Kraken number-one forward unit made it 3-2, with Jared McCann scoring from Jaden Schwartz and Justin Eberle. Vegas goalie Robin Lehner may have been distracted by Schwartz flying towards the net at full speed.
After Vegas killed an early third-period penalty, Seattle tied the game at 7:58. Morgan Geekie took a long lead pass from defenseman Jeremy Lauzon and flicked a 10-footer home. But after retaking the lead on Stephenson’s goal, the Knights showed why they’re considered one of the best defensive teams in the league as they limited Seattle’s scoring opportunities in the final 12 minutes.
“That we were down 3-0 in this building and pushed back, it says a lot about sticking together,” said Hakstol. “We’re disappointed we didn’t get the two points (in the standings).”
The Knights, the last team before Seattle to enter the NHL in 2017, took a 2-0 first-period lead. Mark Stone and Pacioretty displayed the chemistry of two veterans who’ve played a lot together on a `give-and-go’ that ended with Pacioretty slapping the puck past goalie Philipp Grubauer. Jonathan Marchessault, one of the top Knights’ players since the team’s debut, made it 2-0, three minutes later, when he skated around an off-balance Grubauer and placed the puck into the open net. Pacioretty also had the third Vegas goalie when he tipped home a drive from the point by defenseman Nic Hague.
- Opening day was already memorable for the Kraken as they weren’t sure what players would be available for the game. On Monday, it appeared that four Kraken would be unable to play because of COVID tracing including McCann, Marcus Johansson, Jamie Oleksiak and Joonas Donskoi. Johansson was cleared earlier in the day but McCann, Oleksiak and Donskoi didn’t get the negative result of a COVID test until two hours before game-time. Forward Calle Jarnkrok is currently out of the lineup with COVID.
- Last night’s scorers – Donato, McCann and Geekie had four of the five goals in the Kraken pre-season opener against Vancouver. Donato’s had fast starts before – he scored five minutes into his first NHL game with the Boston Bruins. After being traded to Minnesota, he had the game-winning overtime goal in his first home game with the Wild.
- It was no surprise that the Kraken named Marc Giordano as their first captain before the opening game a position he held with the Calgary Flames for eight years. Giordano had the first Kraken shot on goal 18 seconds into the game. Eberle, Schwartz and Adam Larsson will be alternate captains along with Yanni Gourde, when he joins the Kraken after his recovery from shoulder surgery. In hockey, captains and alternates also have specific duties during games. Theoretically only a player with a `C’ or an `A’ on his jersey is allowed to talk to a referee.
- The Kraken outhit the Knights, 33-26. Oleksiak, Larsson, Brandon Tanev and Haydn Fleury all had five hits. Keegan Kolesak, who played parts of five seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League led the Knights with five hits.
- Seattle’s next game is tomorrow (Oct. 14) at Nashville. Game time between the Kraken and Predators is 5 PM PT. The Kraken have an ambitious road schedule of five games before their home opener at Climate Pledge Arena against the Vancouver Canucks.
Vegas – Max Pacioretty (Mark Stone, Chandler Stephenson) 3:10
Vegas – Jonathan Marchessault (William Karlson) 6:36.
Vegas – Pacioretty (Stone, Nicolas Hague) 6:43
Seattle – Ryan Donato (Jonas Doonskoi, Vince Dunn) 11:32
Seattle – Jared McCann (Justin Eberle, Jaden Schwartz) 12:44
Seattle – Morgan Geekie (Jeremy Lauzon) 7:58
Vegas – Stephenson (Pacioretty, Stone) 8:33
Penalties – Seattle 4-8. Vegas 4-8.
Goalies – Seattle: Philipp Grubauer 4 goals, 27 saves .867. Vegas: Robin Lehner 3 goals, 28 saves .903.
Referees – Francois St. Laurent, Graham Skilliter. Linesmen – Kiel Murcheson, Trent Knorr.