The Seattle Kraken had an opportunity to create some distance from the other teams in the Pacific Division last night, but the Calgary Flames had other ideas.
The Flames came into Climate Pledge Arena and thanks to goals from five different players, posted a 5-2 decision. Moments before the opening puck drop, the Vegas Golden Knights dropped a 4-1 decision to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The Kraken and the Knights were tied for first with 61 points, but Seattle had a better winning percentage. With both teams losing, the Los Angeles Kings move into first place by a point, with their victory over the Florida Panthers. Seattle (28-15-5) has four games in hand on LA and three on Vegas, as the team heads to an extended All-Star break after tonight’s game with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“We weren’t very good tonight,” said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol. “Our group wasn’t good, especially in the middle portion of the game. We had no energy, and that’s top to bottom. We didn’t make it real hard on them. I’m not taking anything away from (Calgary), but, we didn’t have any pace to our game.”
The Kraken opened the scoring at 5:20 of the first period when John Hayden became the 22nd Kraken this year to score a goal. Playing in his second game after being recalled from the Coachella Valley Firebirds of the AHL, Hayden tipped home a shot from defenseman Will Borgen, Hayden’s first goal since March 7, 2022, while a member of the Buffalo Sabres. But the rest of the period belonged to the Flames.
Less than two minutes later, the Flames tied the game. Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli worked a `give and go,’ with Toffoli returning a pass to Lindholm, who fired it home. Toffoli would get a goal of his own at 13:28, scoring off the rebound of a shot from linemate Blake Coleman. Defenseman Nikita Zadarov then notched what player’s call a `back-breaker’ when he scored from the slot (directly in front of the net) with five seconds left in the first period.
“Pick any one of their goals,” said Hakstol when asked if the Flames’ goal with five seconds remaining in the period was the turning point of the game. “We had great momentum after going up one goal and we give one up right back. That’s a complete momentum changer”.
The Flames dominated the early part of the second period, but Kraken netminder Martin Jones was sharp. The Kraken also killed two more penalties – a total of 15 consecutive PK’s for a squad that ranked 31st (out of 32 teams) for much of the year. Unfortunately, the Kraken were unable to take advantage of five power plays. Technically, Seattle scored once on the power play, but it didn’t count.
Jared McCann drove to the net and his shot was kicked out by Calgary goalkeeper Daniel Vladar. Alex Wennberg pounced on the rebound and fired it home. However, Calgary challenged the play claiming `goalie interference.’ After looking at the review, the officials agreed and waved off the goal. On the replay it appeared to be a `borderline’ call as McCann made skate-to-skate contact with Vladar but didn’t bowl him over.
The Kraken kept plugging away as Eeli Tolvanen scored off the rebound of an Oliver Bjorkstrand shot. It was Tolvanen’s sixth goal in 14 games since joining the Kraken and Seattle was back in the game, 3-2, with ten minutes remaining. The third period was Seattle’s best, as they recorded 17 shots on goal.
But two minutes later, defenseman Noah Hanifan scored another one of those back breakers, a shot from the slot off a drop pass from Mikael Backlund. Blake Coleman, who also had two assists, then wrapped things up with an empty net goal at 18:40.
Hayden, who was in the lineup, replacing the injured Matty Beniers, had the quote of the night when asked if he got any personal satisfaction in scoring his first goal of the season, despite the loss, “ it’s a winning business.”
“We’re lucky we have a game tomorrow,” said Tolvanen. “We can flush this one away.”
The Kraken will have an opportunity to go into the All-Star break on a high note tonight when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets, making their only appearance at Climate Pledge Arena this season. The Blue Jackets won both meetings between the team’s last season and are one of three teams Seattle has never beaten along with Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. However, this season, Columbus ranks last in the Metropolitan Division with a 15-31-3 record, and have won only four games on the road’
- Matty Beniers, the Kraken’s All-Star representative, who took a high hit (well, a cheap shot) from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier in the week, was out of the lineup last night and won’t play against Columbus. No word on whether Beniers will be able to compete in the All-Star festivities, Feb. 3-4 in Miami. Most likely, another Kraken player would replace him on the team if he’s unable to go.
- Defenseman Justin Schultz, who’s missed the last three Kraken games, was officially placed on injured reserve. Forward Jaden Schwartz has also missed the last three games with an injury. Max McCormick, who played 10 games with the Kraken last season and was the leading scorer on the Kraken’s Coachella Valley AHL affiliate, has rejoined Seattle and was a healthy scratch last night.
- Yanni Gourde blocked a shot in the third period that appeared to hit the Kraken forward on the foot. Gourde, who’s called the `Pepper Pot’ by Kraken TV announcer John Forslund, tried to skate up the ice but then collapsed. The Kraken trainers and teammates Oliver Bjorkstrand and Vince Dunn, assisted Gourde to the bench. But five minutes later, Gourde was back on the ice. “That’s why he’s so respected around the league,” said Kraken newcomer John Hayden. “He’s a real warrior.”
- From the start of the New Year, the Kraken are leading the league in wins (10, tied), points (21), goals (57), and goals per game (4.23).
- Calgary improves to 24-17-9, placing them only five points out of first in the Pacific Division. The Flames, who were playing their last game before the break, were coming off a disappointing 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, Thursday night at Calgary’s Saddledome. The Flames won both of their games at Climate Pledge this season. They beat the Kraken on Dec. 29, 3-2.
- Calgary’s Chris Tanev the older brother of Seattle’s Brandon Tanev, has been placed on the Injured Reserve. The 33-year-old defenseman was injured in Monday’s overtime win against Columbus.
- Calgary goalkeeper Dan Vladar is 10-0-3 since Nov. 29.
S- John Hayden (Will Borgen, Daniel Sprong) 5:20. C- Elias Lindholm (Tyler Toffoli, Dillon Dube) 7:16. C- Toffoli (Blake Coleman, Lindholm) 13:28. C- Nikita Zadarov (Lindholm, Mackenzie Weeger) 19:55.
S- Eeli Tolvanen (Oliver Bjorkstrand, Adam Larsson) 10:36. C- Noah Hanifan (Mikael Backlund, Blake Coleman) 11:40. C- Coleman (Andrew Mangiapane, Backlund) empty net, tw18:40.
Shots on Goal- Calgary 38, Seattle 30.
Penalty Minutes- Calgary 12, Seattle 6
Referees- Tom Chmielewski, Furman South. Linesmen- Bevan Mills, C.J. Murray
Three Stars- 1. Elias Lindholm, C. 2. Tyler Toffoli, C. 3. Eeli Tolvanen, S.