The Seattle Kraken scored four unanswered goals in the second period to post a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers last night at Rogers Place Arena in Edmonton.
The victory avenged the Kraken’s 7-2 loss to the Oilers last Friday night at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena. The win also moves the Kraken (20-12-4) back into third place- and a playoff spot in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. The Oilers who came into the contest tied with Seattle in points, fall to 20-17-2.
“We came out hungry tonight,” said Jaden Schwartz, who paced the offense with a goal and two assists. “We weren’t happy with our last game (against Edmonton). The work ethic wasn’t there. And these teams are very close. Look at the standings.”
Along with Schwartz’s three points, Matty Beniers and Alex Wennberg each had a goal and an assist, Justin Schultz had two assists, and Martin Jones made 30 saves in the Kraken net.
Last night’s game marked the beginning of the Kraken’s longest road trip of the season- seven games in 12 days. It was also Seattle’s first game since the National Hockey League announced that the Kraken will host next year’s prestigious outdoor Winter Classic game, against the Vegas Golden Knights on New Year’s Day, 2024, at T-Mobile Park.
Kraken fans may have been fearing a replay of Friday’s game when Connor McDavid, the league’s leading scorer and the best player in the league, notched his 33rd goal of the season at 48 seconds of the second period to give Edmonton a 2-0 lead.
“We were a little bit sloppy with the puck, especially early in the first 10 minutes, but we were checking well and we cleaned up our puck play,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “We got ourselves into a hole with the second goal against. That was a broken play, a mistake on our part, and it ended up in our net, but we were able to battle back.”
In fact, it seemed like someone turned on a switch and the Kraken suddenly took over the game. Beniers scored on the power play at 4:44, on what some hockey followers would call a `dirty goal. It wasn’t pretty as Beniers redirected Daniel Sprong’s shot directly in front of the net, while fending off Edmonton defenders.
The Kraken only took 31 more seconds to tie the game. With a delayed penalty coming up on the Oilers, Seattle was able to pull Jones for an extra attacker and set up a scoring play. This time it was Beniers who shot from about 20 feet out and Schwartz who got behind the Edmonton defense to tap the puck home.
Yanni Gourde scored the game-winner at 12:42. After Oilers’ goalie Stuart Skinner made an initial save on Schultz, the puck hit the skate of Gourde in front. The scrappy center iceman got control of the puck and wristed a shot home.
Jared McCann finished the second period barrage with a goal that came off some nice passes by Alex Wennberg and Schwartz. It was McCann’s team-leading 17th goal, he led the team with 27 goals a year ago. After McCann’s goal, Skinner was pulled in favor of Jack Campbell, a high-priced free agent that the Oilers signed from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the off-season.
“I think we actually played pretty well in the first. I thought we came out, played hard, did the right things, got the pucks deep and played down low,” Gourde said. “In the second period, we got that one goal and it gave us some wings offensively, and we were able to make more plays offensively, and I think we kept our game pretty simple. We weren’t trying too much, we weren’t trying to pass through guys, we were just putting it at the net and trying to work our way there, and we got rewarded.”
The Oilers opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 12:47 of the first period. Leon Draisaitl, who missed the game in Seattle with an undisclosed injury, set up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with a pass on the power play to give Edmonton the lead.
With 3:30 remaining in the first period, the Kraken’s Sprong came in on a breakaway. Without an Oiler defender in sight, Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner made a leg save on a shot Sprong couldn’t lift over the net. The Oilers outshot their guests, 13-9, in the first 20 minutes.
Draisaitl appeared to make it a one-goal at 1:40 of the third period when he sent home a one-timer off a pass from McDavid. But the Kraken asked for a video review, which determined that forward Zach Hyman was offsides when McDavid brought the puck into the offensive zone. Teams have to be careful with challenges. If the goal had stood, Seattle would have received a delay of game penalty.
“That’s the guys in the back room, that’s Tim [Ohashi] and Brady [Morgan] doing a great job, working through their process, taking the short amount of time they have, and they got it right,” Hakstol said. “That’s a really tight call, but it’s clear, and at the end of the day, that is the right call.”
The Oilers pulled Campbell in the game’s final three minutes. Brandon Tanev, who’s scored a couple of empty netters for the Kraken this season, didn’t have a clear shot on goal so he passed over to Wennberg who did the honors, scoring into an empty net.
“I thought the way we played, it was good to get rewarded,” Kraken defenseman Adam Larsson said. “There was a lot of emphasis on what happened last game (7-2 loss to the Oilers on Friday in Seattle), and that made us even more hungry today. From top to bottom, every guy played a solid game.”
The Kraken have another tough test tomorrow when they travel to fabled Maple Leaf Gardens for their first meeting with a Toronto team that boasts a 23-8-7 record.
- When the Kraken and the Vegas Golden Knights take to the ice on Jan 1. 2024 it’ll mark the 15th Winter Classic game. The first outdoor contest took place in Buffalo on Jan. 1, 2008. The visiting Pittsburgh Penguins notched the victory on Sidney Crosby’s shootout goal. The last two teams to join the NHL, the Knights and Kraken are two of the more popular teams – notice their attendance and merchandising – so their selection for the Winter Classic is no surprise. T-Mobile was selected over Luman Field in large part because T-Mobile has a retractable roof. The NHL says that rain is more of a hazard to the ice surface than warm weather, although the sun can cause a glare on the ice. With no baseball in December, the league will have plenty of time to set up an ice surface at T-Mobile. Most likely, there will also be some kind of a fan-fest in the days leading up to the game, similar to baseball’s All-Star festivities. The Winter Classic was played Monday at Boston’s Fenway Park and temperatures in Boston and Seattle were about the same that day- the mid `40’s.. As Kraken GM Ron Francis noted, a lot of NHL players grew up playing outdoor hockey on ponds.
- Defenseman Adam Larsson has now picked up a point (one goal, six assists) in his last seven games. That ties him with Jordan Eberle for the team record. As the Kraken’s top defenseman, Larssen should receive some consideration for the NHL All-Star game in February.
- The Kraken picked up their 20th win in their 36th game of the season. Last year, Seattle won its 20th game in the 64th game of the season. More impressive – Seattle’s 10-4-2 on the road this season, they only won 11 games a year ago. In the stranger than fiction category, the Oilers, who advanced to the Western Conference finals a year ago, are 9-11-1 at home and have lost their last five home contests.
- For those who start paying attention to the standings at the beginning of the year, the fifth-place team in the Pacific Division, which would probably be Edmonton, Calgary or Seattle, could still make the playoffs if they have a better record than the fourth-place team in the Central Division of the Western Conference. Last season, five teams from the Central Division made the Western Conference finals.
E- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Leon Draisaitl, Zack Hyman) PPG 12:47.
E- Connor McDavid (Mattias Janmark, Brett Kulack) :48. S- Matty Beniers (Daniel Sprong, Justin Schultz) PPG ,4:44. S- Jaden Schwartz (Beniers, Adam Larsson) 5:15 S- Yanni Gourde (Eeli Tolvenin, Schultz) 13:42. S- Jared McCann (Alex Wennberg, Schwartz) 15:48.
S- Wennberg (Brandon Tanev, Schwartz) empty net, 17:29.
Shots on Goal- Seattle 24, Edmonton 32
Penalty minutes- Seattle 6, Edmonton 6.
Referees- Chris Lee, Chris Schlenker. Linesmen- Ryan Galloway, Tommy Hughes
Three Stars- 1. Jaden Schwartz, S. 2. Matty Beniers, S. 3. Yanni Gourde, S.