The first three times the Seattle Kraken went to overtime this season, opposing team seemed to score almost immediately picking up an all-important bonus point in the standings. That was the case Sunday night when the Winnipeg Jets tied the Kraken with five seconds remaining in regulation and then notched the game-winner only 34 seconds into the overtime frame.
Coach Dave Hakstol stressed overtime play in Kraken practice this week- one of the advantages of having three off-days at home- which in the NHL are now three-against-three matchups. In this case, practice made perfect as defenseman Justin Schultz scored at 3:30 of overtime to give the Kraken a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers, last night at Climate Pledge Arena. A free-agent signee from the Washington Capitals in the off-season, Schultz also scored in the third period.
When asked what specifically the Kraken worked on in practice, Jared McCann, who scored the first goal of the contest explained, “we just don’t need to force plays. Hold on to it- puck possession-and make the plays.”
Early in the OT, McCann brought the puck into the zone and two Ranger defenders converged. Instead of risking a turnover and a breakout the other way, McCann brought the puck out of the zone.
The game-winner was then set up on a marvelous play by Justin Eberle. After taking a lead pass from Vince Dunn, Eberle took the puck to the net drawing two defenders. He then found Schwartz coming down the right side who one-timed a wrister home. Ranger goalie Igor Shesterkin- last year’s Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s top goaltender – appeared to be in good position but the puck hit his glove and went into the net.
“Ebs did a great job pulling the defense wide,” said Schwartz, : “I just hoped it would come out to me.”
For the Kraken, it was almost a case of what Yogi Berra used to call `déjà vu all over again. Seattle defenseman Carson Soucy received a penalty in the game’s closing minutes for the second consecutive game. This was what hockey people might call a good penalty as Soucy hooked a Ranger forward going to the net on a scramble in front. But it gave the Rangers a two-man advantage as Shesterkin was pulled for an extra attacker.
And once again the opposition scored the tying goal. Defenseman Adam Fox fired a shot that appeared to hit teammate Barclay Goodrow in front. The puck then found the stick of Vincent Trocheck- the Rangers’ big off-season free-agent acquisition- and Trocheck sent it home. But this time the Kraken regrouped.
“Our guys played with poise tonight,” said Hakstol. “Even when they didn’t have the puck our guys worked hard. We had an outstanding second period. A solid 20 minutes. We generated a lot of scoring opportunities.”
Ranger coach Gerard Gallant had a slightly different take. “ Our first period was great, second period was awful, and the third period was pretty even.”
The Kraken opened the scoring just shy of the three-minute mark. Defenseman Will Borgen fired from the point and McCann deflected the shot home. The Kraken’s leading scorer a year ago, McCann recorded a team-high sixth goal with the score.
New York began to take over the game after that and scored on the power play at 14:56. Chris Kreider, attempting to create havoc in front of the net, hit Miko Zibanejad with a pass coming down the right side for the tying goal.
After being outshot, 14-6, in the first period, the Kraken rattled off 16 shots in the second. Shesterkin showed why he’s as good as any in the game, holding Seattle scoreless. The Ranger’s goalie’s best saves came when he stopped Morgan Geekie on a breakaway and later robbed Oliver Bjorkstrand on a tip-in attempt.
Seattle goalkeeper Martin Jones needed to stop only five shots in the frame, but he had the best save of the night. The Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko appeared to have Jones beaten, but the sprawled netminder stopped Kakko’s shot with his skate.
“He made a good move,” said Jones, who has turned in a league-high ten quality games this season. “Actually, I was leaning the wrong way but slid across.”
Schultz scored his second goal, and the go-ahead goal at that point, midway through the third period. Schultz fired from the point and while Jaden Schwartz had his stick down looking for a re-direct, the puck appeared to hit the leg pads of Ranger defenseman Braden Schneider and went in the net. Andre Burakovsky picked up a team-leading 11th assist on the goal.
I liked the way we responded at the end of the game,” said Schultz, who the Kraken signed as an offensive-minded defenseman. “We played responsible, and got the two points. And Jonesy made some big stops. He’s going against one of the best goalies in the league.”
The Kraken improve to 9-5-3 on the season, good for third place in the Pacific Division. The Rangers drop to 8-6-4. Seattle plays the fifth game of a six-game homestand against the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow night at Climate Pledge Arena. The Kings are two points ahead of the Kraken in the standings, The Kraken picked up their first win of the season last month in LA.
- The Kraken’s Yanni Gourde played his 400th regular season NHL game last night. He played 310 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning and 90 with the Lightning. Gourde won two Stanley Cups with the Lightning. His former TB linemate Barclay Goodrow picked up an assist for the Rangers last night, off a puck that glanced off his shoulder and almost hit him in the head.
- Last night was “Kraken Hockey Fights Cancer Night,” a part of the “Hockey Fights Cancer Month.” The Kraken wore the ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ warmup jersey which includes purple ribbons intertwining the number set. The purple ribbon is representative of pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease. Those jerseys, along with a special ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ goalie mask that was designed by Seattle goalie Philip Grubauer along with Kraken Art Director Drew Hamlet will be up for auction until the end of the month. See the Kraken website and app to make a bid. The mask features mountains, plus a water scene that Grubauer says could be Puget Sound and/or Lake Washington. The lower part of the helmet features the Kraken Hockey Fights Cancer logo. Grubauer also added the Bavarian flag, the German flag, the initials of his parents and girlfriend and the paw prints of his dog. Kraken TV announcer, Ed Olczyk, is a Stage 3 colon cancer survivor.
- Fans in the front row near the Kraken bench had an “I Love Vince Dunn” sign. Dunn gave them a couple of pucks as he left the ice after warmups.
- Last night’s win over the Rangers was the first in Kraken history. Seattle went 0-2 against New York last season, as the Rangers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals where they lost in six games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
S- Jared McCann (Will Borgen, Jaden Schwartz) 2:45. N- Mika Zibanejad (Chris Kreider, Vincent Trocheck) PPG 14:56.
S- Justin Schultz (Andre Burakovsky, Jaden Schwartz) 9:27.
N- Trocheck (Barclay Goodrow, Adam Fox) PPG 18:06
N- Schultz (Jordan Eberle, Vince Dunn) 3:39.
Shots on Goal- New York 30, Seattle 32.
Penalty Minutes- New York 8, Seattle 8.
Referees- Dan O’Rourke, Cory Syrvet. Linesman-David Brisbois Joe Mahon.
Three Stars- 1. Justin Schultz, S. 2. Jared McCann, S. 3. Igor Shesterkin, N.