On Tuesday night, the Seattle Kraken showed they can win a close high-scoring game. Last night they showed they can win a close low-scoring game. Before another loud cloud at Climate Pledge Arena, the Kraken defeated the Washington Capitals, 3-2, for their seventh consecutive victory.
Matty Beniers scored seven seconds into the overtime period to give Seattle a record seven consecutive victories and their fourth straight win in overtime. Beniers set an NHL record for the fastest goal by a rookie in overtime. The Kraken improve to 15-5-2 and are 12-1-1 in their last 14 games.
Beniers who has five goals and seven assists in his last six games (he’s been picked as the number-one star in three of those games) won the opening faceoff in overtime. He passed ahead to Andre Burakovsky, who battled for the puck with the Capitals’ all-star defenseman John Carlson. When Carlson fell down, Burakovsky passed back to Beniers who went in on a breakaway. The first-year center wristed a shot through the legs of goalie Darcy Kuemper for his 10th goal of the season.
“This feels so much better than a 9-8 game,” said Yanni Gourde, who scored the game-tying goal at 17:33 of the third period. “You don’t want to give up eight goals to a team (Los Angeles) in your own division. I thought we played like we’re used to seeing how the Kraken win games. This is exactly the type of game that we want to be in. “
“You need patience against a team like Washington,” said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol of the Capitals’ 1-3-1 defense. “But midway through the second period, things started to turn. We had the momentum.”
The Capitals, with five regulars out of their lineup, ended a six-game winless streak against Vancouver the previous night, the longest draught for a Washington team in 15 years. Alex Ovechkin, passed Wayne Gretzky on the all-time list for most goals on the road. Only Gordie Howe and Gretzky have more goals in NHL history than Ovechkin.
The “great number eight” as Ovechkin’s sometimes called, set up two Washington goals on the first three Capital shots. A shot by Ovechkin was redirected by Martin Fehervary into the net at 7:36. Jared McCann hit Ovechkin after he took the shot but got the worst of it against the bigger Ovechkin.
Then with Jordan Eberle in the box for tripping, the Capitals added a power play goal. Ovechkin found former Kraken Marcus Johansson to the right of the net and Johansson hit Conor Sheary driving to make it 2-0. Washington almost made it 3-0 in the period’s closing seconds when Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer foiled Carlson’s tip-in attempt.
The Kraken outshot the Capitals 6-4 in the first period, a far cry from Tuesday’s shootout against Los Angeles where the teams combined for 14 goals in the first two periods of a 9-8 game. Gourde appeared to give the Kraken a spark as he fought T.J. Oshie, who grew up in Mountlake Terrace. Players from both teams and the officials stood back as Gourde and Oshie squared off for about 45 seconds with an equal amount of punches thrown.
Seattle started off the second period slowly, but Grubauer kept them in the game. Making his second start after returning from an injury, Grubauer played better as the game went along. “GrubI,” who began his career with the Washington Capitals made five saves on Ovechkin alone -21 in the game.
“I’ve seen him in practices over the years,” said Grubauer. “So, I know his tendencies. You can’t react. You just have to hold your position and hope the puck hits you.”
The Kraken finally got on the scoreboard on a power play at 13:28. Vince Dunn’s drive from the point hit the boards and Jaden Schwartz was in perfect position to drive the puck past Washington goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper.
Seattle almost tied the game before the second intermission when Eberle’s shot hit the post. Beniers would have had an open net if he could have controlled the bouncing puck. Then Grubauer stopped Evgeny Kuznetzov at the other end.
With the clock winding down in the third period it became a question- when would the Kraken pull Grubauer for an extra attacker? They didn’t have to. At 17:33, Gourde banged home the rebound of a Daniel Sprong shot (“I saw the puck lying there and my eyes lit up,” said Gourde).
That set the stage for Beniers’ overtime heroics. The 20-year-old has five goals in his last six games, 10 goals and 11 assists on the season. Counting the ten games he played a season ago, Beniers has 13 goals, 17 assists and 30 points in 33 NHL games.
“Matty has been awesome for us,” said the veteran Schwartz.. “He’s a hard-working kid and learns from other guys and he’s hungry to win. He’s hungry to score goals. It’s nice to have that and he definitely brings a spark to our team and excitement for the fans.”
The Kraken hope to continue their winning ways tomorrow night when they host the Florida Panthers (11-9-4, 5th in the Eastern Division) at Climate Pledge.
- Along with the game-winning goal, Matty Beniers picked up his first NHL penalty in his 33rd game. It was a good one, as Beniers knocked Washington defenseman John Carlson’s stick out of his hand and way up in the air. Unfortunately for Beniers it was right in front of the referee. Coach Dave Hakstol joked after the game that he’ll “need to have a long talk” with Beniers about getting a penalty.
- With Vegas’ 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh last night, the Kraken are only two points behind the Golden Knights in the NHL standings. The Kraken are now a point ahead of Colorado, the first-place team in the Central Division of the Western Conference.
- Kraken general manager Ron Francis was a guest on the `Got Yer Back’ podcast with well-known Canadian sportswriter Pierre LeBrun. Francis didn’t count out the chances of the Kraken loaning first-round draft pick Shane Wright to the Canadian Junior Hockey league. Francis also made an interesting comment about Wright’s time with the Kraken- “some of his problems were self-inflicted. He was taking short shifts. Young guys will do that. They don’t want to get caught on the ice.” In other words, Wright was heading to the bench on his own. But the Kraken still have high hopes for Wright’s future. Wright, the fourth overall pick in the 2022 NHL draft, has four goals in three games with the Coachella Valley Firebirds. He’s scored those goals on five shots.
- The Kraken have four former Capitals on their roster. Philipp Grubauer and Andre Burakovsky started their NHL careers in the nation’s capital and Justin Schultz and Darren Sprong were members of the Capitals’ last season. Sprong was traded to Seattle at the trade deadline for Marcus Johansson. Both players had assists in last night’s game.
- Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson, two of the Capitals’ top forwards haven’t played all season due to off-season surgery. Defenseman Dimitry Orlov and forwards Carl Hagland and Conor Brown are also on the injured list.
- While not directly Kraken related, the Los Angeles Kings placed beleaguered goaltender Cal Peterson on waivers after Tuesday night’s 9-8 shootout with Kraken. And no one claimed him. Peterson surrendered four goals in the game after starter Jonathan Quick gave up five. Peterson will now join the AHL Ontario Reign .Kings’ general manager Rob Blake said the plan is to get Petersen as much time in net as possible.
W- Martin Fehervary (Alex Ovechkin, Conor Sheary) 7:36. W- Sheary (Marcus Johanson, Ovechkin) PPG, 14:04.
S- Jaden Schwartz (Vince Dunn, Andre Burakovsky) PPG, 13:28.
S- Yanni Gourde (Daniel Sprong, Vince Dunn) 17:33.
S- Matty Beniers (Burakovsky), 0:07.
Shots on Goal- Washington 23, Seattle 25
Penalty Minutes- Washington 9, Seattle 13.
Referees- Chris Rooney, Brandon Schrader Linesman- Jonathan Deschamps, Ben O’Quinn
Three Stars- 1. Matty Beniers. 2. Philipp Grubauer 3. Andre Burakovsky