Last night’s game at Climate Pledge Arena felt like something special. Along with Seattle sports legends Marshawn Lynch – now a minority owner of the Seattle Kraken- and Lenny Wilkins on hand for Black Hockey History Night, fathers and mentors of Kraken players were in attendance and there were plenty of fans sporting the sparkling red colors of the Detroit Red Wings (a classic NHL uniform). Even the woman who celebrated her 101st birthday at a Kraken game on New Years Day was back.
Hockey fans wanted to see if the Kraken would win their third straight game- they now have seven out of eight points in their last four games- or whether the Wings, dormant until about two weeks ago, would win their sixth consecutive game. Both teams rose to the occasion as the Kraken, behind two goals from Justin Eberle, held on for a 4-2 decision. Fans certainly got their money’s worth, although most of the patrons with the iconic red wing on their chests, left frowning.
“I was happy with the effort,” said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol. “We got off to a good start. We built a lead. We didn’t manage the puck very well in the last 10 minutes and that caused a lot of trouble for us. ‘Grubi’ was good and we got through it. And we had the benefit of the lead that we built in the first 50 minutes.”
The Kraken improve to 32-18-6 on the season. Seattle remains one point behind the Los Angeles Kings, who are currently second in the Pacific Division. The Kings blew a 5-1 lead to the lowly Arizona Coyotes last night but won 6-5 on the shootout. The top three teams in every division automatically make the playoffs, and the third place Kraken are now three points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers, who’ve dropped three games in a row.
Eberle opened the scoring at 16:50 of the first period when his shot trickled through the pads of Detroit goaltender Ville Husso. Eberle has scored three goals in his past four games. He also recorded his fourth three-point game, the most of any Kraken in the team’s brief history.
“The biggest thing is you just want to try and do the same things, create as much as you can,” said Eberle, whose father Darren addressed the team at morning practice. “Odds are things always equal out in the end. I’ve heard that many times and as long as you’re doing the right things you’re creating and getting chances..”
The Wings tied the game with only 16 seconds left in the first period. After Grubauer’s kick save on defenseman Jake Walman, forward Pius Suter fired home a shot that hit the stick of defenseman Adam Larsson, who tried to block the shot. Suter started the play after picking off an errant pass and bringing the puck into the Kraken defensive zone. The first period was pretty even as both teams were credited with ten shots on goal.
The Kraken took the lead for good in the second period thanks to two goals set up by Matty Beniers, the league’s leading scorer among rookies. Three minutes into the second period, Beniers hit Eberle with a `tape-to-tape’ pass that he sent home for his second game of the contest. Later in the period, Beniers found defenseman Jamie Oleksiak in front of the net
“I kind of had some time and just got my head up, and [Oleksiak’s] sitting backdoor,” Beniers said. “It was a great play by him to jump into the play and get there and sneak behind their defender, and it was just an easy pass.”
The Kraken completed their scoring at 4:49 of the third period. Defenseman Will Borgen’s drive from the point hit Daniel Sprong in front of the net but Eeli Tolvanen pounced on the deflection for his 12th goal of the season. Tolvanen, who didn’t join the Kraken until the first of the year, now has points in his last five games.
The Wings still had some fight left as Husso was pulled from the net with just under four minutes remaining in the contest. A combination of Grubauer saves – he had a dandy off Tyler Bertuzzi- miss shots by Red Wing attackers, and blocked shots by the Kraken defense- Seattle had 12 blocks- kept Detroit at bay. The one exception was Dylan Larkin’s goal at 17:39, cutting the lead in half. The Red Wing captain now has 56 points in 55 games this season.
The Kraken were unable to chalk up any empty net goal although Jaden Schwartz hit the post and Brandon Tanev was pulled down going in on a breakaway. The officials could have awarded Tanev a goal but Detroit’s David Perron did receive a tripping penalty which killed any hopes of a Detroit comeback with 31 seconds remaining. Tanev and Bertuzzi both received misconduct penalties in an ensuing scrum.
“The strength of this team is the depth we have,” Eberle said. “We get contributions from different lines each night, from the back end each night. For me, you go into playoffs and you have that, that’s a tough thing to beat.”
The Kraken travel to San Jose tomorrow night. The team has three games remaining with their Pacific Division rivals who are currently seventh in the eight team division. The Kraken then return to Climate Pledge Arena on Thursday for the much awaited rematch with the Boston Bruins. The Bruins have the best record in the league and their only home loss of the year came against the Kraken, a 3-0 shutout by Martin Jones on Jan. 12.
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- The Kraken dads and mentors (and a few brothers) will travel with the team to San Jose on Monday night. The National Hockey League started a tradition a few years ago where player’s fathers would travel with the team on one road trip.
- As part of Black History Hockey night, Marshawn Lynch presented a $32,000 check to Lenny Wilkens for the charity of his choice. Wilkins, who’s in both the college and pro basketball Hall of Fames, coached the Seattle Sonics to their only NBA title. And of course, one of the streets adjacent to Climate Pledge Arena is called Lenny Wilkins Way.
- Heading into last night’s game, only four teams have more tallies from their defensive corps than the Kraken-: Florida (37), Carolina (35), New Jersey (33), and the NY Islanders (30). Jamie Oleksiak scored the 30th goal by a Seattle defenseman in the second period. The Kraken have ten players overall, who’ve scored at least ten goals this season.
- The Red Wings have been a big help to the Kraken recently, defeating the teams just below Seattle in the standings in their recent winning streak. Detroit beat Calgary twice, home and away, including a 5-2 win in Alberta Thursday, which followed 6-1 road victory against Edmonton on Wednesday.
- Marcus Hellberg, who went to training camp with the Kraken, is the backup goaltender for the Red Wings. Hellberg, allowed only two goals on 35 shots against Calgary.
S-Jordan Eberle (Carson Soucy) 16:50. 2 D-Pius Suter (Jake Walman, Filip Zadina) 19:44.
S- Eberle (Matty Beniers, Jared McCann) 2:05. S- Jamie Oleksiak (Beniers, Eberle) 19:52.
S- Eeli Tolvanen (Daniel Sprong, Will Borgen) 4:49. D- Dylan Larkin (Tyler Bertuzzi) 17:39.
Shots on Goal- Detroit 21, Seattle 26.
Penalty Minutes- Detroit 16, Seattle 16
Referees- Gord Dwyer, Pierre Lambert. Linesmen- Kiel Murchison, Joe Mahon.
Three Stars- 1. Jordan Eberle, S. 2. Philipp Grubauer, S. 3. Matty Beniers, S.