Kraken lose finale, start playoffs next week

A successful regular season by the Seattle Kraken ended inauspiciously last night at Climate Pledge Arena as two Vegas Golden Knight goals went off the sticks of Kraken players (including an empty-netter) as Vegas defeated Seattle, 3-1, in the finale.

However, there weren’t a lot of long faces in the arena after the game. The Kraken and their fans can now look ahead to the team’s first-ever playoff appearance in only its second year of existence. All the teams ahead of Seattle in the Pacific Division won last night. That means Vegas will play the second Western Conference playoff team, the Winnipeg Jets. The Edmonton Oilers, who many consider a solid Stanley Cup contender, finish second and will play the third-place Los Angeles Kings.

Unfortunately for the Kraken, both Dallas and Colorado won last night. As the first wild-card team, the Kraken will face the division winner with the second-best record in the Western Conference. Currently Dallas is up by a point over the defending Stanley Cup champion Avalanche. Ther regular season was `supposed’ to end last night – all 32 teams were in action- but Colorado has a `make-up’ game tonight with the Nashville Predators.

To use an old sports cliché- the Avalanche’s fate is in their own hands. This is an immanently winnable game for Colorado as the Predators were eliminated from the playoffs last week, and have nothing to play for. A Colorado win means that the Kraken will face the Avalanche in the best-of-seven series which would begin on Tuesday. With an Avalanche loss against Nashville, the Kraken will travel to Dallas to begin a series with the Stars on Monday night. The Minnesota Wild were the only top six team in the Western Conference to lose last night (to Nashville), eliminating the slim chance they had of winning the division. Kraken followers aren’t shedding any tears for the Wild, as Minnesota goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury, a future Hall-of-Famer, has had the Kraken’s `number’ this season.

In last night’s contest, fans were in a festive mood. At almost every play stoppage, the Kraken were giving something away- Starbucks’ gift cards, playoff tickets, even airplane trips. Fans also received Kraken tote bags as they entered the arena. After the game, season awards were given out (more on that in Game Notes).

On the ice, the Kraken dominated outshooting the visitors, 31-18. Coach Dave Hakstol noted that Seattle shooters hit the post on at least three occasions. The Kraken had a huge territorial advantage as well, but Vegas played solid team defense and goalkeeper Lauren Brossoit was the game’s number-one star. Brossoit has established himself as Vegas’ number-one goalie late in the season. Last night’s game was a far cry from Tuesday night’s game at Las Vegas. The Kraken came out `flat, and the Knights’ dominated the game, winning 4-1 and outshooting Seattle 37-21.

“There’s no comparison (between the games),” said Hakstol. “We looked like ourselves tonight, We did a ton of really good things. We played at a good pace overall and defended pretty well.”

The Knights actually scored their first goal before they actually had a shot on net. Vince Dunn’s pass for Jaden Schwartz, hit off Vegas forward Reilly Smith and into the net. Goalie Philipp Grubauer, who was the game’s number-three star, wasn’t expecting a shot and didn’t have his stick down on the ice.”

Schwartz tied the game with a wrister from the slot at 16:20 of the first period. Morgan Geekie started the play by winning a battle in the corner with the Knights’ William Karlsson, getting the pass out to Alex Wennberg. Wennberg, who’s had a solid season with the Kraken, found Schwartz in front for the score. Geekie’s mostly played center in his first two years with the Kraken, but  has recently played wing on a line with Schwartz and Wennberg.

“He’s been great for us,” said Schwartz. “He (Geekie) wins a lot of battles. He’s a big body. And he’s great on faceoffs.”

With a delayed penalty coming up on the Kraken, Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez tipped home a shot in front of the net. When the play began, both teams were one man short, but as Vegas set up the play, Seattle’s Adam Larsson returned from the penalty box, technically making the score a short-handed goal. Jack Eichel, the Knights’ leading scorer, who didn’t play in Tuesday’s game in Vegas, assisted on the goal.

“We made a couple of mistakes for goals against,” said Hakstol. “The first one just caught Grubi. He was a little bit unaware on that one. Then on the second one we’re just trying to do a little bit too much, attempting to make a play that turned into icing, instead of getting a line change and living for the next play.”

The Kraken pulled Grubauer in the final two minutes but were unable to get the tying goal. With 40 seconds remaining in the game, Jared McCann’s drop pass went all the way down the ice into the open net. The Knights’ Chandler Stephenson was credited with that goal.

Seattle finishes the season with a 46-28-8 record, exactly 100 standing points.


  • The Kraken gave out four awards after the game.
  • Vince Dunn was awarded the Pete Muldoon Award, which is presented to the Most Valuable Player and voted on by the media. Dunn had a career season finishing with 14 goals and a career-high 50 assists. The award is named for Muldoon, coach of the 1917 Seattle Metropolitans,, the first United States’ hockey team to win the Stanley Cup.
  • Jaden Schwartz won the Guyle Fielder Award for perseverance, hustle and leadership as voted on by his teammates. “It’s awesome to be recognized like that,” said Schwartz. “A lot of guys in this room are deserving of that award.” Fielder played 22 seasons in the Western Hockey League, mostly for the Seattle Totems. He only played 15 games in the NHL, but is the fourth leading scorer in professional hockey behind Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe and Jaromir Jagr.
  • Jared McCann received the Three-Star Award as the first Kraken to score 40 goals in the season, Three stars are picked at every NHL game, and players receiving three-star consideration in Seattle home games were given five points for the number one star, three points for the number-two star, and one for the number-three star. McCann had the highest cumulative total of any Kraken player.
  • Matty Beniers was voted The Most Popular Kraken by fans on the team’s website. Beniers’ ranks as the favorite to win the league’s Rookie of the Year Award and also as a contender for the Lady Byng Award, awarded to the league’s most gentlemanly player. Beniers has only one minor penalty for two minutes in 79 games this season.
  • The Kraken announced that Andre Burakovsky will miss the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after undergoing a surgical procedure Tuesday to address a recurring lower-body injury. Burakovsky was injured on the opening shift of a Feb. 7 road game against the New York Islanders. Burakovsky scored an overtime game winning goal in last years’ Stanley Cup finals for the Colorado Avalanche against the Tampa Bay Lightning.


First Period

V- Reilly Smith (unassisted) 9:56. S- Jaden Schwartz (Alex Wennberg, Morgan Geekie) 16:20.

Second Period

V- Alec Martinez (Ivan Barbashev, Jack Eichel) SH 12:37.

Third Period

V- Chandler Stephenson (unassisted) EN 19:22

Shots on Goal- Vegas 19, Seattle 32

Penalty Minutes- Vegas 12, Seattle 8.

Referees- Garrett Rank, Graham Skilliter. Linesmen- Ryan Galloway, Trent Knorr.

Three Stars- 1. Lauren Brissoit, V. 2. Jared Schwartz, S. 3. Philipp Grubauer, S.

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