Panther’s end Kraken winning streak, 5-1

After a month that saw only one loss in regulation, it almost seemed like the  Seattle Kraken were due to lose a game. That’s what happened last night as the Kraken dropped a 5-1 decision to the Florida Panthers at Climate Pledge Arena.

Spencer Knight, the Panthers’ 21-year-old goalkeeper stopped 36 of 37 shots after stopping 32 of 33 shots in Vancouver, two nights earlier. Playing in his 50th NHL game, Knight has recorded 31 victories in the Panthers’ net.

Matthew Tkachuk, the Panthers’ big off-season acquisition from the Calgary Flames, sparked the offense with assists on the first two goals and then scored the third himself. Tkachuk entered the game as the sixth-leading scorer in the NHL and was his usual pesky self, getting in the faces of a couple of Kraken players.

The loss drops Seattle to 15-6-3 while Florida improves to 12-9-4. While the Kraken outshot the Panthers, 38-27, it’s hard to say they deserved to win the game. Seattle didn’t seem to be getting to the puck as quickly as they have in recent games and misfired on several shots when Knight wasn’t making the stop.

“I think we were a little slow to pucks,” said Jared McCann, who scored the lone Kraken goal. “We didn’t have any jam. We weren’t playing the way we normally do. We had a good streak going. It’s time to reset and refocus.”  

Trailing 2-0, McCann took a centering pass from linemate Jordan Eberle and fired one home from in close at 1:53 of the second period. The typically loud Saturday night crowd thought they were about to see another Kraken comeback (they trailed Washington 2-0 on Thursday night) and Seattle did outshoot Florida 13-2 in the second period.

The Panthers scored their first goal on a controversial play. At 13 minutes of the first period, Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer came about five feet out of the net to make a save on Sam Bennett (three assists). Defensemen Marc Staal, going for the puck, collided with Grubauer and the puck squirted over to Carter Verhaeghe who fired into the open net.

The Kraken challenged the goal claiming goalie interference’ and when the replays on the twin scoreboards showed Staal barreling over Grubauer, the admittedly partisan Kraken fans thought the goal would be disallowed. But moments later, lead referee Marc Joannette announced there was no goalie interference and the goal would stand.

 “It’s frustrating, and that’s part of the game,: said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol. “You’ve got to make your decision to challenge in 20 or 30 seconds and make the best decision possible. I felt like our goaltender didn’t have a chance to do his job.”

“It was a hockey play,” said Panthers’ coach Paul Maurice, talking to a large contingent of media outside the Florda dressing room after the game. “Marc was going for the puck and tried to slow down (before he bumped the goalie).”

The worst thing about the play from the Kraken’s perspective was that an unsuccessful challenge leads to a two-minute delay of game penalty against the challenging team. 23 seconds later, Verhaege scored his second goal of the night.

The Kraken would give up three power-play goals in the contest and have now given up six PPGs in the last three games.

The officials were booed when they returned to the ice for the second period. They didn’t win any more friends when shortly after McCann’s goal, Seattle’s Vince Dunn and Verhaege were called for roughing behind the play. The refs decided to give Dunn an extra two minutes, giving Florida a man-advantage. The Panthers made it 3-1 when Tkachuk deflected a shot by Aaron Ekblad from the point.

Overall, the Kraken played a pretty good second period. Matty Beniers, the hottest Kraken scorer of late (five goals and seven assists in his previous six games), missed an open net and was stopped on a couple of occasions by Knight.

Aleksi Heponiemi and Gustav Forsling added third period goals for the Panthers. While it didn’t affect  the outcome, Grubauer certainly wishes he had the last goal back – Florida’s third power play goal of the contest. Grubauer made the save on the initial shot but didn’t know where the puck was and inadvertently kicked it into the net.

“Many parts of our game weren’t very good tonight,” said Hakstol “That’s a tough way to win a game. The bottom line: We take a day off tomorrow, get a day of practice and get back to work.”

The Kraken finish a three-game homestand Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens. Kraken faithful can point out that while `Les Canadiens’ have won the most Stanley Cups they’ve never beaten the Kraken. Seattle won both meetings between the team’s last season.


  • Even with last night’s loss, only three teams in the National Hockey League have lost fewer games than the Kraken- Boston, New Jersey and Toronto. Seattle and Dallas have the fewest losses in the Western Conference. The Kraken trail the Vegas Golden Knights by four points in the Pacific Division standings, but the Knights have played two more games. Despite their recent success, The Athletic has the Kraken `only’ 10th  in their power rankings.
  • Adding to the frustration of last night’s loss, the Panthers were playing shorthanded. Aleksander Barkov, who often plays on the top line with Carter Verhaege and Matt Tkachuk, didn’t even make the road trip with Florida. Anthony Lindell suffered an upper body injury in the Panthers’ win over Vancouver and Florida only suited up 19 players last night – 11 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies. But they lost two other players in the game. Radko Gudas, one of their top defensemen was injured in a collision at center ice and literally crawled to the bench midway through the first period. In the second period, Patrick Hornquist, who recently played his 800th game, crashed into the boards chasing down the Krakens’ Ryan Donato on a breakaway attempt. Neither player returned to the game.
  • The Kraken will have the opportunity to avenge last night’s loss a week from today when they face the Panthers in Florida, the second game of a four-game road trip. Seattle ended Florida’s 11-game home winning streak last season with former Panther Chris Driedger coming up with some big saves in the Kraken net.
  • Seattle wore their `third’ retro uniforms which are patterned after the uniforms of the Seattle Ironmen, a former Western Hockey League team. The Kraken are now 1-1 in their new unis.


First Period

F- Carter Verhaeghe (Sam Bennett, Matthew Tkachuk) 13:00 F- Verhaeghe  (Tkachuk, Brandon Montour) PPG 13:26.

Second Period

S- Jared McCann (Jordan Eberle) 1:53 F- Tkachuk (Aaron Ekblad, Bennett) PPG 5:53.

Third Period

F- Aleksi Heponiemi (Eric Staal, Ryan Lomberg) ? F- Gustav Forsling (Bennett, Eetu Luostannen) PPG, 13:03.

Shots on Goal- Florida 28, Seattle 37.

Penalty Minutes- Florida 6, Seattle 10

Referee- Marc Joannette, Brian Pochmara. Linesman- Kiel Murchison, Tyson Baker.

Three Stars- 1 Carter Verhaeghe, F 2. Sam Bennett, F 3. Spencer Knight F.

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