Kraken return home post 6-2 victory over Philadelphia Flyers

While the Seattle Kraken have won more games on the road this year (17) than at Climate Pledge Arena (14) there’s something to be said for the old adage, “there’s no place like home.”

Playing their first game on home ice since Jan. 29 (18 days), the Kraken posted a 6-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. To use another cliché, the game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Philly could only muster one shot on goal in the first period as Seattle posted its second win of the week against the Flyers. The Kraken defeated Philly (22-24-10) on Super Bowl Sunday, 4-3.

Yanni Gourde led the offense with two goals and an assist as the Kraken improve their record to 31-18-7 on the season. Gourde’s seventh and eighth goals of the year were the Kraken forward’s first goals since Jan. 10, 14 games ago. The victory also helped the Kraken keep pace with the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights. William Carrier scored the game-winner with 18 seconds remaining (the only time that Vegas led in the game) to give the Knights a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Vegas leads second-place Seattle by two points (71 to 69) in the Pacific Division standings.

“It’s good to get some confidence,” said Gourde, of his offensive output.” It’s good to shoot the puck and get the puck going, and it’s always good to score a few goals going forward. But at the same time, don’t change the way you play. Just play hard and play your game and good things happen.”

The Kraken jumped on their guests early. With Ryan Donato in the penalty box for hooking, Philadelphia’s Kevin Hayes wound up to take a shot from just inside the blue line. But Jared McCann stepped in and was off to the races on a breakaway. McCann had Gourde coming down the opposite wing, but McCann elected to shoot. The result was the Kraken forward’s 26th goal of the season (he led the team with 27 a year ago) beating former Everett Silvertips’ goalkeeper Carter Hart.

Gourde then scored his first goal at 13:39, when he had his stick in perfect position to tip-in a shot by defenseman Justin Schultz. Overall, the period belonged to the Kraken. Seattle’s only the second team to hold an opponent to one shot in the first period this season- Carolina outshot Arizona, 14-1, in a 4-0 victory on Nov. 23.

As expected, the Flyers showed some pushback at the beginning of the second period. Despite an overall losing record, Philly entered the game 11-6-3 in their last 20 games. The visitors had four early shots against Philipp Grubauer, but the momentum changed starting with Schultz’s power-play goal. The Kraken’s third goal looked a lot like the second – a drive from the point by Schultz with Gourde parked in front of the net. This time, Gourde didn’t touch the puck but effectively screened Hart.

“The biggest goal, in my mind, was Schultz on the power-play goal,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “You knew there was going to be a response after the first period. They had a response, and that power-play goal settled things down for us.”

Oliver Bjorkstrand scored at 11:26 on a breakaway. Hart, who received a nice hand when introduced from fans who remembered his junior days in Everett. was pulled after the goal. Gourde made it 5-0 before the second intermission, when he drilled a shot from the slot.

”He does it all, every game all year,” McCann said. ”There’s a reason he’s got back-to-back Stanley Cups (with the Tampa Bay Lightning). That’s the guy that we need to watch and need to learn from.”

Seattle’s final goal came in the third period. Matty Beniers scored on a partial break, his first goal since returning from an injury five games ago. He also had an assist on Schultz’s goal and was the game’s number-three star. Only 5-10, Beniers takes his share of bumps but never slows down. Beniers goal was sandwiched between two relatively meaningless goals from the Flyers’ Travis Konecny. The second one came on a nice play however, as Konecny batted the puck home while falling to the ice.

“It feels good to score,” said Beniers. “Sometimes the goals seem to come in waves.”

While he wasn’t severely tested in net, the Kraken were pleased to get a victory for their goaltender, Grubauer. Famously nicknamed `The German Gentleman’ by Kraken TV announcer John Forslund, Grubauer has averaged 1.96 goals against since Jan. 9, tops in the league in that span. But he’s in the bottom six among NHL goaltenders in goal support from his teammates. Grubauer was only 4-4-2 in those games.

“I thought we played faster than the last few games on the road,” Gourde said. “I thought we were checking a little bit better, even in the neutral zone. They weren’t coming through the middle of the ice and in the neutral zone. I think that’s the big key.”

“The guys came to play tonight. I can’t single out just one or two guys as having played well,” said Hakstol. “In a team win like this, that’s not what we’re about.”

The Kraken return to action tomorrow night when they host the Detroit Red Wings in their only Climate Pledge Arena appearance this season.

GAME NOTES

  • The Flyers aren’t the `Broad Street Bullies’ anymore, the nickname they received when they were winning and terrorizing the rest of the NHL back in the `70’s and `80’s. However, the Flyers’ Nicolas Deslauriers has been in ten fights this season, most in the NHL and more than six NHL teams. The Kraken have 14 fighting penalties, but only three since the beginning of the year. Deslauriers fought Jamie Oleksiak in the first period. Oleksiak, who’s one of the biggest players in the NHL- 6’7, 257- doesn’t lose too many fights (he’s had four this season) but Deslauriers did a good job preventing Oleksiak from getting his arms free to throw many punches. Of course, he’s had a lot of practice.
  • Grubauer was playing his third consecutive game in the net for the Kraken. Chris Driedger, who shared goaltending duties with Grubauer last season, has been practicing with the team the least few weeks .Driedger tore an ACL in his knee last May while playing in the World Tournament. If Driedger is activated that would give the Kraken three NHL level goalkeepers in Grubauer, Driedger and Martin Jones.
  • The Flyers colorful coach John Tortorella thought last night’s contest was the worst his team has played this season. The game marked the start of a four-game Western swing tor the Flyers that moves to Vancouver Saturday, Calgary Monday and Edmonton Tuesday.

SCORING SUMMARY

First Period

S- jared McCann (unassisted) SH; 3:11. S- Yanni Gourde (Justin Schultz, Eeli Tolvanen) 13:39.

Second Period

S- Schultz (Matty Beniers, Jordan Eberle) PPG 5:52; S- Oliver Bjorkstrand (Gourde, Jamie Oleksiak) 11:26; S- Gourde (Jaden Schwartz, Eberle) PPG 14:43.

Third Period

P- Travis Konecny (Noah Cates, Ivan Provorov) :14. S- Matty Beniers (unassisted) 10:30.  P- Konecny (Cates) 14:11.

Shots on Goal- Philadelphia 19, Seattle 30.

Penalty Minutes- Philadelphia 11, Seattle 11.

Referees- Gord Dwyer, Corey Syvret. Linesmen- Tyson Baker, Travis Toomey.

Three Stars- 1. Yanni Gourde, S. 2. Justin Schultz, S. 3. Matty Beniers, S.

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