It was somewhat appropriate that Shane Wright would score his first NHL goal against the Monreal Canadiens the team that `snubbed’ him by not selecting him first in last summer’s amateur draft.
Unfortunately, the Canadiens took some of the luster off Wright’s triumphant return from a rehab assignment with the Coachella Valley Firebirds. Montreal scored two goals within seven seconds in the second period en route to a 4-2 victory.
Montreal seemed ripe for the picking, missing six regulars from their lineup with injuries and coming off a disastrous game at Vancouver the previous night. The Canadiens had a 4-0 lead in the first period and a one-goal lead with 90 seconds remaining in regulation, before dropping a 7-6 overtime decision.
“You give up the goals that we did in the second period, those are hard to dig out from,” said Kraken coach Dave Hakstol after the game. “Then the one later in the period. They capitalized on those opportunities and made us pay for those.”
One difference in last night’s game however was the appearance of Jake Allen, the Canadiens’ number-one goaltender between the pipes. Allen, who was the starter on the St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup champion team in 2019 (although rookie Jordan Binnington played a lot in the playoffs) Allen stopped 31 of 33 shots in a contest where the MoneyPuck.com website figured that with their shot quality, the Kraken should have had at least three goals.
At the other end, Kraken goalie Martin Jones was left out to dry by his defense on a couple of goals, but what was glaring on the scoresheet was that Jones allowed four goals on only eight shots in two periods.
The Kraken drop to 15-7-3 and finish their abbreviated homestand with a 1-2 mark. Seattle’s only 7-6-2 at home and 8-1-1 on the road. The Canadiens improve to 13-11-2. This was Montreal’s first win against Seattle in three games. The Kraken chalked up their first win ever at Climate Pledge Arena against the Canadiens last year.
While Wright was the rookie on everyone’s mind, Montreal defense Jonathan Kovacevic scored his first NHL goal at 12:56 of the first period. The marker came on a drive from the point after Kovacevic took a cross-ice pass from his defense partner Mike Matheson.
Then the Climate Pledge Arena faithful got to see what they’ve wanted to see all season. The 18-year-old scored his first NHL goal, in front, off a centering pass from Oliver Bjorkstrand. Wright and Bjorkstrand hugged and Yanni Gourde alertly scooped up the puck, a lifetime memento for his young linemate.
“Obviously it’s going to be something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” said Wright. “It feels good to finally score one, feels good to finally hit the back of the net, Anytime you can score to help your team out during the game always feels good. Maybe a little bit of relief. I think it’s more excitement and happiness.”
Wright almost had his first NHL score a few minutes earlier when Gourde from behind the net pass to Wright in front but Allen made the pad save. In his first stint with the Kraken, Wright played mostly on the fourth line with minimal minutes. Last night, he was placed on a line with two veterans who see a lot of ice time – Gourde and Bjorkstrand.
“Gordo never stops moving and he’s a very smart player,” said Wright. “And Bjorkstrand’s a great offensive player.”
Unfortunately for the Kraken, Wright’s goal would remain the Seattle highlight of the game. The Canadiens scored two goals in seven seconds early in the second period. The first goal had “blood all over it.” Nick Suzuki intercepted a clearing pass and then found his linemate, Cole Caulfield, unguarded at the right side of the net. Suzuki and Caulfied are responsible for 38 percent of the Montreal goals this season.
The Canadiens immediately struck again as they came down the ice after the ensuing faceoff and Josh Anderson fired one home. It’s worth noting that Juraj Slafkovsky, the player Montreal DID draft ahead of Wright, assisted on the goal. The Montreal media (French and English) had played up this contest as a battle between Wright and Slafkovsky. Except for that assist the Finnish-born Slafkovsky had a quiet night.
The Canadiens added an insurance goal at 16:40 when Rem Pitlick was left alone in front of the net. Pitlick recorded a hat trick against the Kraken last season while skating for the Minnesota Wild.
Jared McCann, then literally beat the clock, when he redirected a shot by Andre Burakovsky with one second remaining in the second period. McCann leads the Kraken with 12 goals and Burakovsky’s the team leader with 17 assists.
We’ve got to clean up a couple of things that we know were blatant and obvious,” said Hakstol. “We weren’t efficient enough in terms of getting through the neutral zone, and being cohesive with the puck.”
The Kraken begin a four-game road trip with a game in Washington, Friday night. The Kraken beat the Capitals last week on Matty Beniers’ overtime goal.
- Leading up to the expansion draft a year ago, there was speculation that Jake Allen would be the goaltender the Kraken would take in the expansion draft. Then the Canadiens surprised everyone by protecting Allen in the draft and leaving Carey Price, a former Vezina Trophy winner unprotected. The Kraken didn’t show much interest in Price. At one time he was as good as anyone in the net, but since that expansion draft, Price has only played five games due to injuries.
- Allen now has 10 quality starts on the season. His opposite number, Martin Jones, had nine quality starts heading into last night’s game. Jones also had a 9-1 record overall against the Canadiens before last night’s game.
- Morgan Geekie was also back in the lineup for the Kraken last night. He missed two games with an injury after colliding with teammate Adam Larsson. Ryan Donato, Karson Kuhlman and Cale Fleury were the Kraken scratches.
- The Kraken killed three Montreal penalties last night after having allowed six power play goals in their last three games The Kraken were 30th in the NHL on the PK, only killing 66% of the goals against them. Before Kraken fans get too excited, it should be noted that Montreal came into the game 29th on the power play.
M- Jonathan Kovacevic (Mike Matheson, Kirby Dach) 12:56 S- Shane Wright (Oliver Bjorkstrand, Yanni Gourde) 15:30
M- Cole Caufield (Nick Suzuki) 2:05. M- Josh Anderson (Christian Dvorak, Juraj Slafkovsky) 2:12. M- Rem Pitlick (Joel Edmundson, Jake Evans) 16:40. S- Jared McCann (Andre Burakovsky) 19:59,
Shots on Goal- Montreal 16. Seattle 33.
Penalty Minutes- Montreal 8, Seattle 6.
Referees- Wes McCauley, Jean Hebert. Linesmen- Kyle Murchison, Ben O’Quinn.
Three Stars- 1. Cole Caufield, M. 2. Jake Allen, M. 3. Shane Wright, S.