After seeing their six-game road winning streak end two nights earlier, the Seattle Kraken became `road warriors’ again posting a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers last night at. FLA Live Arena. While the game was closer than the final score would indicate, the Kraken played a solid around game with five different players scoring goals.
At the other end of the ice, Martin Jones, coming off perhaps his worst performance of the year against Montreal earlier in the week, stopped 23 shots, ten on the penalty kill. But when the teams were at even strength, the Kraken carried the play.
“Pregame we talked about five-on-five play,” said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol.. “We talked about just getting back to who we are and playing a little bit better five-on-five in terms of all three zones, in terms of how we checked and skated. We did that tonight. That was a big, a big piece of our game.”
The Kraken also avenged a 5-1 loss against the Panthers a week ago at Climate Pledge Arena. It was also nice for the second-place Kraken (16-8-3) to pick up two points in the standings with Pacific Division leading Las Vegas and third-place Los Angeles both losing.
The night started well for the Kraken. Carter Verhaeghe, who scored two goals last weekend in the Seattle, hit the post in the opening minute of the game. Moments later the Kraken scored, when Jared McCann took the pick away from Verhaeghe and passed across to linemate Matty Beniers who fired home from about 20 feet out.
Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky might not have been quite ready for the shot. He nonchalantly stuck out his right glove, and the puck sailed over the glove into the net. The 34-year-old Bobrovsky was playing his third consecutive game and second in two nights (the Panthers lost to Tampa Bay on Saturday, 4-1). Spencer Knight, who played with Beniers on the US Junior team, stopped 36 of 37 shots in the Panthers’ 5-1 win over Seattle, but has recently been out of the lineup with an illness.
Yanni Gourde was then whistled off the ice with a penalty and the Panthers, the only NHL team to average four goals a game last season, went on an early power play. Jones proved the adage that the goalie’s a team’s best penalty killer, by stopping four shots. Eeto Luostakinen, who scored last week in Seattle, came in all alone but Jones stopped his initial shot and the rebound.
“Especially early, [Jones] made some key, key saves,” said Seattle forward Jordan Eberle, who scored the eventual game winner. “He deserves all the credit. He’s been great this year, and I think the biggest thing is he just becomes a presence back there, and anytime you make mistakes; he will make saves.”
Despite five early shots, the Panthers would only record two more shots in the first period. Seattle grew stronger and wound up outshooting Florida in the frame, 9-7. The Panthers did tie the game early in the second period when veteran Eric Staal, who didn’t play in the NHL last season, scored his first goal as a Panther.
The Kraken took the lead for good thanks to their leading scorer, Andre Burakovsky at 9:05 of the second period. Oliver Bjorkstrand started the play as he kept the puck in the zone as he was heading to the bench on a line change. Bjorkstrand sent a pass down the wall to Gourde, who then found Burakovsky who fired home from the right faceoff circle.
“It happened fast,” Gourde said. “We had a great [offensive]-zone shift. I knew they were tired; I made the move on the wall and saw (Burakovsky) come in through the middle of the ice, and a [heck] of a shot by him.”
The third period belonged to the Kraken. After another penalty kill, Eberle tipped home a drive from the point by Beniers at 7:15. Then, Florida’s Ryan Lomberg probably spoiled any chance of a Panther comeback.
With the Kraken already on a power play, Justin Schultz was called for a holding penalty on Lomberg. When Schultz touched the puck to halt play, Lomberg rammed him into the boards. Beniers jumped Lomberg but didn’t receive a penalty – the 20-year-old center has only one penalty in his NHL career.
When the dust had settled, the officials gave Lomberg a minor, major and match penalty (game misconduct) for attempt to injure. Besides being a `dumb’ play, Lomberg’s hit looked worse than Seattle’s Jamie Oleksiak’s elbow on Washington’s Alexander Alexsiev in the Kraken’s previous game. Oleksiak received a three-game suspension and the NHL is sure to look at Lomberg’s hit. Schultz never returned to the game.
The Kraken didn’t score on the five-minute advantage but it certainly hampered the Panther’s chances of getting back into the game. When the teams returned to full strength, Darren Sprong scored his sixth goal of the season and Gourde’s (a goal and an assist) empty netter made it 5-1.
The Panthers’ fourth line added a goal in the final minute which didn’t affect the outcome of the game. Chris Tierney scored from Matt Kierstad and Zac Dalpe, neither of whom had seen much action in the contest.
“I thought we were really, really good tonight. That felt like how we were playing on that seven-game winning streak,” said Jones. “That was a really strong effort for us. . .we checked really well. When we’re playing like that, we just make it really tough on teams to create any offense, anything off the rush. And we just don’t spend a ton of time in that zone. A really, really strong effort (tonight).”
The Kraken continue their Southeast swing when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first time this season on Tuesday night.
- The Kraken continue to have some success against some of the better teams in the league. They’re 3-1 against the Panthers, and ended Florida’s 11 game home streak at the beginning of last season. Former Panther, Chris Driedger stole that game with his play in the Seattle net. Driedger tore up his knee in a World Tournament game over the summer, but could return to action at the start of the New Year.
- The Kraken are now 8-2-1 on the road this season after last night’s victory. Seattle (16-8-3 overall) trail first-place Vegas by six points in the Pacific Division standings. But the Knights have played three more games.
- Hakstol was unsure of Schultz’s status after the game. If he misses some games along with Oleksiak sitting out a suspension, the Kraken would be down two defensemen. That could give Ryker Evans, the Kraken’s number-two amateur pick in 2021, an opportunity to see some NHL time. Evans has one goal and 11 assists in 18 games for the Coachella Valley Firebirds of the AHL. Evans; 21st birthday is Tuesday night (Dec. 13).
- Going into last night’s game, the Panthers were still without the services of Anton Lundell, Radko Gudas, and Patric Hornqvist, who were both injured in the Dec. 3 game at Seattle. Aleksander Barkov, the former Selke winner for best defensive forward, was back in the lineup after missing the Panthers’ West Coast road trip
- The Scouting The Refs website, which lists the referees and linesmen for every NHL game, the morning of the games, had an interesting note. Heading into last night’s game, the Panthers had won nine consecutive games with lead referee Jon McIsaac going back to the 2019-20 season. McIsaac, who worked the Kraken game at Washington on Friday was joined last night by Peter McDougall. Neither of those refs had ever worked a Seattle win. The Kraken were 0-8 lifetime with those officials before last night, 0-3 this season – two under McIsaac and one under MacDougall. But maybe the refs don’t make a difference.
S- Matty Beniers (Jared McCann) 1:04.
F- Eric Staal (Colin White) 6:34, S- Andre Burakovsky (Yanni Gourde, Oliver Bjorkstrand) 9:05.
S- Jordan Eberle (Will Borgen, Beniers) 7:15. S- Daniel Sprong (Alex Wennberg, Burakovsky) 15:09. S- Yanni Gourde (Brandon Tanev, Adam Larsson) EN 17:22, F- Chris Tierney (Matt Kierstad, Zac Dalpe) 18:43.
Shots on Goal- Seattle 32, Florida 26.
Penalty Minutes- Seattle 8, Florida 20
Referee- Jon McIsaac, Peter MacDougal. Linesmen- Kyle Flemington, Andrew Smith.