So far, the calendar year of 2023 has gone well for the Seattle Kraken.
The Kraken improved their 2023 record to 4-0 with an 8-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre. Seattle improves to 22-12-4. The Kraken, who have played well on the road this season, are now 3-0 starting their longest road trip of the year. Last night’s game marked Seattle’s 12th road win of the season; the Kraken had only 11 road victories all of last season.
Seattle had goals from eight different players in the win, the most for a National Hockey League team this season. To highlight their scoring balance, the Kraken have scored more goals at even strength than any NHL team (113), even though they have no individual player in the top 50 NHL scorers.
“The strength of this group is in the depth that we have,” said Kraken coach Dave Hakstol. “That’s not just in the forwards but in the defense and in the goalies. You see teams that have four lines and six D that contribute are dangerous.”
“We’re just consistent,” said Kraken forward Jared McCann, who scored his team-high 19th goal of the season. “We don’t take any team lightly ever. We were the team last year that was sometimes taken too lightly and we’ve been great this year on the road and we’re going to keep it going.”
In their previous two games, the Kraken were outshot in the first period and then rebounded to score four goals in the second. The Kraken were outshot in the first stanza of last night’s game but took a 3-1 lead to the intermission.
However, the Senators rebounded to tie the game in the second period. Tim Stutzle scored two goals (he finished with a three-goal hat trick and an assist) to deadlock things, 3-3. But the Kraken answered with a “response goal” from Daniel Sprong. Defenseman Will Borgen sent the puck up the left boards to forward Sprong, who took the puck the rest of the way, wristing a shot past Ottawa goalie Cam Talbot. The Kraken never looked back as Matty Beniers made it 5-3 off a nice pass from linemate Jordan Eberle – the game’s number-one star.
“When (other teams) have scored, most of the time we’ve responded well,” said Sprong, who tallied his 12th goal of the season. “ Borgen made a good play, we went in on a 2-on-1 and put it in the back of the net.””
Forward Oliver Bjorkstrand opened the scoring at 9:19 of the first period, on the Kraken’s second shot of the game. Bjorkstrand, who has three goals in the last seven games, fired a shot from the right circle off a pass from Jaden Schwartz. The Kraken are now 14-2-2 when they’ve scored the first goal of the game this season.
The Senators (18-18-4) tied the game, 1-1, when Brady Tkachuck, the Senators’ All-Star representative, waltzed through the Kraken defense and beat goalie Martin Jones, “top shelf.” Jones, playing his fourth consecutive game, picked up his 16th win of the season placing him in the top five in the NHL.
McCann made it 2-1 at 12:53, on a cross pass from Schwartz and his shot was from the top circle, even farther outside than Bjorkstrand’s shot. Three minutes later, Jamie Oleksiak fired a shot from the point that was tipped on by Schwartz. Ottawa goalie Anton Forsberg looked a little slow reacting as the puck rolled into the net and he was pulled in favor of Talbot.
The Senators still had a chance trailing 5-3 heading into the third period. But defenseman Vince Dunn helped put the game out of reach with a drive from the point at 1:19. Dunn scored off a drop pass from Andrei Burakovsky that Talbot was unable to snare even though he had a clear view of the puck. Dunn has two goals and seven assists in his last nine games while Larsson, his defensive partner, has eight points (one goal and seven assists) in the last nine games.
Eberle made it 7-3 on the rebound of Burakovsky’s shot. Burakovsky, who hasn’t scored since Dec. 11, finished the scoring when he tapped in his own rebound. Eberle, Burakovsky and Schwartz all finished the game with one goal and two assists. The line of Eberle, Beniers and Burakovsky finished the game with eight points.
“We’ve been at our best when we’ve been able to roll four lines and not have a huge concern over each matchup,” Hakstol said. “That’s the way our team is built. We’re asking everyone to contribute, play the right way, play with responsibility defensively. We weren’t airtight there tonight, but we were good enough at the right times.”
Between the final two Kraken goals, Stutzle scored his third goal of the game- the second of his career. While some hats were thrown on the ice to celebrate Stutzle’s hat trick. However, the celebration was somewhat subdued as it looked likely at that point that the Senators were on their way to a loss.
The Kraken continue their longest road trip (seven games) with games at Montreal on Monday and Buffalo on Tuesday. Seattle needs only one more win to post a winning road trip.
- The Kraken announced Friday center Shane Wright has been reassigned to his junior team, the Kingston Frontenacs, of the Ontario Hockey League. Wright celebrated his 19th birthday on Thursday, captaining Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2023 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Halifax, NS. Wright scored Canada’s second goal in the championship game which saw Canada defeat Czechia, 3-2 in overtime. Wright appeared in eight games for the Kraken this season, scoring his first NHL goal in a Dec. 6 home game against Montreal, which was his best game of the season. With Wright playing in juniors the rest of the season, one can speculate that the Kraken may be interested in acquiring some veteran talent at the trade deadline.
- Matty Beniers, the Kraken’s All-Star selection, left the game in the second period after receiving a cut lip in a collision with his former Team USA teammate Jake Sanderson, Beniers however, only missed one shift and returned to score a goal. Beniers wore a Team Canada jersey in practice yesterday as part of a bet he made with Shane Wright regarding Canada winning the World Juniors. Incidentally , Sanderson’s father (Geoff Sanderson), grandfather (Pat Stapleton) and uncle (Mike Stapleton) all played in the NHL.
S- Oliver Bjorkstrand (Jaden Schwartz) 9:19. O- Brady Tkachuk (Tim Stutzle, Thomas Chabot) 10:21. S- Jared McCann (Schwartz, Alex Wennberg) 12:53. S- Schwartz (Jamie Oleksiak, Daniel Sprong) 15:13.
O- Stutzle (unassisted) O- Stutzke (Chabot, Artem Zub) 8:34. S-Daniel Sprong (Will Borgen) 8:56. S- Matty Beniers (Jordan Eberle) 14:13.
S- Vince Dunn (Andre Burakovsky, Adam Larsson) 1:19. S- Jordan Eberle (Burakovsky, Beniers) 4:55. O- Stuzle (Drake Batherson) 5:20. S- Buratkovsky (Eberle, Dunn) 9:59.
Shots on Goal- Seattle 24, Ottawa 23.
Penalty Minutes- Seattle 6, Ottawa 2.
Referees- Chris Rooney, Justin Kea. Linesman- Mark Shewchyk, Kyle Flemington.
Three Stars- 1. Jordan Eberle, S. 2. 3. Tom Stutzle, O.