In the Seattle Kraken’s season opener almost two months ago, the Kraken dropped a 4-2 lead to the Anaheim Ducks and lost in overtime, 5-4, despite setting a team record with 48 shots on goal.
Last night, the Kraken returned to the scene of the crime, the Honda Center in Anaheim, and again gave up a 4-2 lead. But this time, Daniel Sprong (who didn’t play in the opener) scored three minutes into the third and another example of solid team defense in the final minutes gave the Kraken a 5-4 victory.
For the second time this season, Seattle has now won five games in a row. The Kraken have a chance to set a new team record for consecutive victories when they play the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. Seattle (13-5-3) has already beaten the Kings twice this season.
The Ducks drop to 6-15-4 as the two teams have been headed in opposite directions since the season opener. In fact, when Anaheim defeated the New York Rangers on Wednesday night it was their first regulation (non-overtime) win in 18 games, one shy of the record.
As often seems to happen in sports, it was the hot team that got the lucky break of the game. After sending a drop pass to Sprong, Ryan Donato attempted to set up shop in front of the net. Donato (slightly) bumped the Duck defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk who lost his balance and fell on his goalie John Gibson. With Shattenkirk and Gibson both down, Sprong lifted the puck into the open net, Gibson, who had been tripped up by another teammate Troy Terry earlier in the game, had to leave the game with an injury.
“We were on a breakout and then Donnie gave it to me, when I wanted to dump in the puck and go for a long change,” said Sprong.. “I think it ended up hitting [Mason] McTavish in the foot and came right back to me in a slot.”
“It was good to go flip the switch, lock it down a little bit and play a good 20 minutes on the road,” said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol, of the Kraken not giving up the lead as they did in the opener and had a propensity to do last season.
The Kraken opened the scoring :33 seconds into the contest, the third fastest goal in Kraken history. The goal came off a set play. Matty Beniers won the faceoff back to Jordan Eberle, while Jared McCann came off the side boards and curled in front of the net. McCann was then in perfect position to fire home the pass from Eberle. It was McCann’s team-high eighth goal of the season.
Seattle dominated the first period. They made it 2-0 on some nice passes by Adam Larsson to Andre Burakovsky to Alex Wennberg, who scored his fourth goal of the season, directly in front of the net. Burakovsky has a team-high 14 assists on the season.
Terry, who scored the game-winner on an overtime breakaway against the Kraken on opening night, cut the lead in half as he tapped in his own rebound past Martin Jones at 14:18. But the Kraken went to the intermission with a 3-1 lead. Vince Dunn took a pass from Oliver Bjorkstrand at the point and then skated down the middle untouched to score in the final minute. Dunn’s goal was the 16th by a Kraken defenseman this season.
However, the second period belonged to the Ducks. Derek Grant, returning after ten games with an injury, scored at 1:46 of the second period. Later in the period, Anaheim added power play goals from McTavish and Adam Henrique. The Ducks finished the game with three power plays, the first time they’ve had 3 PPGs in one game since 2017.
Matty Beniers had the Kraken’s only goal of the second period. Beniers, who’s been the game’s number-one star in two of the last three Seattle games, also scored on the power play at 9:30. All of the Kraken’s goals came from in close, and Beniers scored on a pass from Sprong. Beniers also assisted on Sprong’s goal, replacing Morgan Geekie on a line with Donato and Sprong. Geekie left early in the second period and didn’t return.
The Ducks then tied the game, 4-4, but Jones came up with some big stops on Henrique and Ryan Strome after a Dunn turnover.
“You can look at the second period, there’s stretches where Jonesy had no work,” said Hakstol. “All of a sudden, we have two power plays in a row coming at us and he’s got chaos around him. That’s not an easy game for a goaltender to play. When you find those he saves, that’s why we’re standing here talking about a win.
“I don’t really like the term find a way to win,” said Hakstol. “We build good wins, that’s the bottom line, so our team has confidence in that.”
- The Kraken are 7-1-1 on the road this season and along with five straight victories overall, they’ve won their last five road games and four straight against Pacific Division opponents. Last year, they had a 4-12-1 record on Thanksgiving Day. While Martin Jones turned in some big games in the net in the Kraken’s first five-game winning streak, Seattle has scored 23 goals in its last five games, an average of almost 4 ½ goals a game. On the season, the Kraken’s have scored 15 more goals than the opposition. In comparison, Anaheim has given up 35 more goals than they’ve scored this season.
- Individually, Matty Beniers has two goals and seven assists in the last four games, defenseman Justin Schultz has two goals and four assists in the last five games and Jordan Eberle has ten points in the last ten games.
- After the game, the Kraken didn’t know the extent of Morgan Geekie’s injury (he missed the entire third period). Ironically, part of the reason Shane Wright didn’t see more ice time when he was with the Kraken, was how well Geekie played as the team’s so-called `fourth-line center,’ (plus Kraken forwards have been remarkably healthy so far this season). Even if Geekie is out for a while, Wright can’t return to the parent team from Coachella Valley until Dec. 6.
- Overlooked in the Kraken’s recent success is that the team has done fairly well keeping star players on the opposing teams under wraps. Vegas’ Jack Eichel had only one shot on goal in the Knights’ loss to Seattle, Friday night. Players such as Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and Colorado’s Nathan McKinnon have been quiet in losses to the Kraken. Anaheim’s Troy Terry may be the exception. Terry, who leads the Ducks in goals, assists and points, had two goals in Anaheim’s season opener against the Kraken and had a goal and an assist last night. Fittingly, it was `Troy Terry Bobblehead Night’ at the Honda Center.
- The Ducks have a bit of an excuse for their poor defensive play. Three of their top four defensemen – John Klingberg, Jamie Drysdale and Urho Vaakanairnen- are out with injuries.
S- Jared McCann (Jordan Eberle, Matty Beniers) :33. S- Alex Wennberg (Andre Burakovsky, Adam Larsson) 6:53 A- Troy Terry (Trevor Zegras, Cam Fowler) PPG 14:14 S- Vince Dunn (Oliver Bjorkstrand, Yanni Gourde) 19:31.
A- Derek Grant (Frank Vatrano, Ryan Strome) 1:46. S-Beniers (Daniel Sprong, Justin Schultz) PPG 9:30. A- Mason McTavish (Zegras, Cam Fowler) PPG 16:34. A- Adam Henrique (Terry, Zegras) PPG 17:55
S- Sprong (Ryan Donato, Beniers) 3:41.
Shots on Goal- Seattle 25, Anaheim 29
Penalty minutes- Seattle 8, Anaheim 4
Referees- Jake Brenk, Mitch Dunning. Linesman- Ryan Gibbons, Joe Mahon.
Three Stars- 1 Matty Beniers, S 2. Troy Terry, A. 3. Cam Fowler, A