For the second consecutive game, the Seattle Kraken were outshot in the first period only to rebound with a four-goal second period to boast a victory.
Last night at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, the hometown Leafs controlled the first period outshooting their guests by a 10-3 margin. The Kraken responded in the second and added another goal in the third to post a 5-1 victory. The victory marked Seattle’s 11th road win of the season, matching the 11 victories the team compiled in their initial season of 2021-22. It was the Kraken’s third straight victory improving their record to 21-12-4.
Five different Kraken turned on the red light starting with Eeli Tolvanen, who has a point (two goals) in all three games he’s played for Seattle. Vince Dunn, Jared McCann and Matty Beniers added to the second period scoring column and Alex Wennberg added a third-period marker. Beniers, who’s the leading scorer among NHL rookies, was also selected yesterday as the Kraken’s representative in the NHL All-Star game, Feb. 4 in Florida.
Thanks to goalie Martin Jones, the Kraken reached the first intermission in a scoreless tie. The Kraken defense helped out with three blocked shots and on other occasions, the Maple Leafs (23-9-7, second in the Atlantic Division) just shot wide of the net.
The Kraken survived that onslaught and opened the scoring in the second period. On a power play, Dunn sent a lead pass to Tolvanen, who blistered home a shot from the top of the right circle. It was similar to the goal scored by Tolvanen last Sunday night against the New York Islanders in Seattle. Dunn also assisted on that goal and it also came on the power play.
Penalty killing has been a weakness for the Kraken all season. The team’s ranked 31st out of 32 teams when it comes to giving up goals with a man short. Last night, Seattle killed the first two penalties called against the Kraken- no mean feat as Toronto’s one of the few teams to play five forwards on the power play- but then Yanni Gourde was whistled off four minutes for high-sticking .
Against a high-powered offense led by last year’s Most Valuable Player, Auston Mathews, the Kraken killed three of the four minutes before John Tavares fired home a shot from the point. Jones was blocked from seeing the puck by two different Toronto defenseman. The goal came right after Jones had made two big saves on Michael Bunting and Mitch Marner
How the Kraken responded to that goal, proved to be the turning point of the game. It took Seattle all of 14 seconds to score a `response goal.’ Tolvanen and Oliver Bjorkstrand battled two Toronto players along the wall and the puck came back to Dunn at the point, who sent home his fifth goal of the season.
“Biggest goal of the game, biggest point of the game,” said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol. “When Toronto tied it up the momentum can push the other way, For our group to be able to come back and get that goal, that was the biggest turning point of the hockey game.”
“I think a lot of bounces went my way,” said Dunn. “All my points were created off the forwards working hard and finding me to get the puck, so a lot of credit to them. They made it easy on me to play my game.”
Dunn would add an assist on the Kraken’s third goal of the period at 13:50. Dunn sent a crossing pass to Jaden Schwartz in his own zone, who found McCann all alone with a long stretch pass. McCann went in on a breakaway, beating Leafs’ goalie Matt Murray on the glove side for his team-leading 18th goal of the season.
“We made some big mistakes,” said Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe, who was also disappointed his team was unable to take the lead in a strong first period. “The breakaway is a big mistake. The game is already 2-1, you can’t make that mistake.”
It was also a tough night for Toronto defenseman Mark Giordano, who was highly respected as the Kraken’s captain, in the first half of last season. He was the defenseman screening Murray on Dunn’s goal and was the defenseman caught up the ice on McCann’s breakaway. Giordano was traded to the playoff-bound Maple Leafs at the trade deadline.
Beniers, who was told by Hakstol and general manager Ron Francis earlier in the week that he had been selected to the All-Star game, had the final goal of the period. Andre Burakovsky centered a pass to Jordan Eberle. Murray made the save on Eberle but the puck came to Beniers, who made a spin move and then fired the puck into the net. Eberle and Beniers have been linemates since Beniers joined the team last season and Beniers gives the veteran forward a lot of the credit for his success.
“Matty has been a guy who just shows up and works every day,” said Hakstol. He’s an intelligent person. He’s got a great hockey sense. That competitiveness never wanes. It’s not up and down. His competitiveness is there, day in and day out. As a young guy in this league, especially as a centerman, that’s a heavy load to carry. There’s going to be nights where he’s having great success, there’s going to be other nights that are more difficult. But his demeanor doesn’t change his response to the next day, the next shift, the next period.”
Alex Wennberg finished the scoring in the third period finishing a rush by Brandon Tanev, who now has points in the last five Kraken games.
The Kraken are now 2-0 starting their longest road trip of the season, seven games in 12 days, and are 3-0 in the 2023 calendar year.
“I’ve never been on a trip this long, so we’re just going to take it a piece at a time,” Hakstol said. “We got a good win at home before we left town, nice win in the division on the road against Edmonton and then to be able to come in here and play well again, that sets us up well.”
“There’s still another level (for us) to give,” Dunn said. “Shutting down those teams was great, but a couple shaky moments where Jones kept it a close game for us. When we are feeling our game, it translates and trickles down to the goalie’s playing style, I think he feels it and feels confident back there, makes the saves he needs. And for the most part we did a good job defensively out there.”
The Kraken travel to Ottawa on Saturday night to face the Senators.
- Last night the National Hockey League selected one player from each of the 32 NHL teams to participate in the All-Star games, Feb. 4 at the FLA Live Arena, home of the Florida Panthers. Under a new voting format, the 12 remaining players (two skaters, one goalie per division) will be selected through the 2023 Honda All-Star Fan Vote presented by Guaranteed Rate, which runs through Jan. 17 at midnight ET. The Atlantic Division will faceoff against the Metropolitan Division and the Central Division faces the Pacific Division in three-on-three competition. The winners then square off in the finals The format of all three games in the tournament will be three-on-three, with 10-minute halves each. The NHL skills competitions take place the previous night – Feb. 3.
- Players selected to the team so far include: Metropolitan Division- Andrei Svechnikov, Calgary. Johnny Gaudreau, Columbus. Jack Hughes, New Jersey. Brock Nelson, NY Islanders. Igor Shestarin, NY Rangers. Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh. Alex Ovechkin, Washington. Atlantic Division- Linus Ullmark, Boston. Tage Thompson, Buffalo. Dylan Larkin, Detroit. Matt Tkachuk, Florida. Nick Suzuki, Montreal. Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay. Mike Marmer, Toronto.
- Central Division- Clayton Keller, Arizona. Seth Jones, Chicago. Cole Makar, Colorado. Jason Robertson, Dallas. Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis. Josh Morrissey, Winnipeg. Pacific Division- Troy Terry, Anaheim. Nazem Kadri, Calgary. Connor McDavid, Edmonton. Kevin Fiala, Los Angeles. Erik Karlsson, San Jose. Matty Beniers, Seattle. Elias Petterson, Vancouver. Logan Thompson, Vegas.
- Last night was a busy night for hockey. The World Junior championships have been completed with Canada defeating Sweden in the finals, 3-2, in overtime. The United States finished third, winning a bronze medal with an 8-7 win over Sweden. The Kraken’s Shane Wright recorded Canada’s second goal. Wright’s linemate Connor Bedard set a new World Junior record with 16 goals. The previous record was 14 held by current Kraken Jordan Eberle. Bedard was voted MVP of the tournament.
S- Eeli Tolvanen (Vince Dunn, Jared McCann) PPG, 7:02. T- John Tavares (Mitch Marmer, Austin Mathews) PPG 10:54. S- Dunn (unassisted) 11:08. S- Jared McCann (Jaden Schwartz, Dunn) 13:50. S- Matty Beniers (Jaden Schwartz, Dunn) 17:25.
S- Alex Wennberg (Yanni Gourde, Brandon Tanev) 2:57.
Shots on Goal- Seattle 26, Toronto 27.
Penalty Minutes- Seattle 10, Toronto 4.
Referees- Steve Kozari, Kendrick Nicholson. Linesmen- David Brisebois, Devin Berg.
Three Stars- 1. Vince Dunn, S. 2. Jared McCann, S 3. John Tavares T.