Competing in the first Stanley Cup playoff game held in Seattle since 1920, the host Kraken and the visiting Colorado Avalanche played a game of shifting momentum. The Avs scored two quick goals at the end of the first period, the Kraken responded with two quick goals in the second stanza and when the Avs scored twice in the first four minutes of the third it was too much for the Kraken to overcome. The result was a 6-4 Colorado victory as the defending Stanley Cup champions take a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-seven opening round.
In the 1920 series it was the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association losing in five games to the NHL’s Ottawa Senators with the Stanley Cup on the line. Last night, the Kraken faithful were loud enough to awaken some of the souls who were in attendance for that 1920 series. Seattle fans cranked up the volume to new levels, waving powder blue Seattle Kraken towels. It’s also not an exaggeration to say that over half the crowd were sporting Kraken colors – the dark blue home attire, the white roadies, and the light blue alternate jerseys.
The only thing missing was a Kraken victory. Mikko Rantanen who had 55 goals in the regular season put Colorado ahead to stay at 3:01 of the third period. Devon Toews brought the puck out of his zone eventually sending a cross pass to Rantanen who beat goalie Philipp Grubauer with a low, hard shot. Nathan McKinnon, the other Avs’ marksman chipped in with two goals. Even in the Avs’ opening game loss to Seattle, Rantanen and McKinnon had their share of shots, but Grubauer made some stellar saves in the Kraken net.
“We gave up two goals pretty quick in the first,” said Kraken coach Dave Hakstol, “as well as in the third. Those are tough to overcome when you give up those types of goals quickly like that.”
When Cale Makar’s drive from the point made it 3-1 early in the second period, the Avalanche did what some thought impossible, they quieted the Kraken crowd. That didn’t last long, as defenseman Jamie Oleksiak made a goal scorers move. Oleksiak deked around Rantanen and drilled home a shot from the slot at 12:51.
“Going down the wall, I took the pass from (Yanni) Gourde and had some open ice down the middle,” said Oleksiak. “It wasn’t pretty. But I’ll take it.”
A mere 19 seconds later, Seattle tied the score. Kraken alternate captain Jordan Eberle admitted that Seattle’s line of Jared McCann, Matty Beniers and Eberle needed to get on the scoreboard after being shutout in Colorado. The Kraken accomplished that mission when McCann centered a pass to Beniers from behind the net. Beniers outmuscled the Colorado defenseman and jammed the puck home. For Beniers, the leading candidate for the Calder Trophy presented to the top rookie, it was his first (and most likely far from his last) playoff goal) Eberle had the secondary assist on the goal.
Jaden Schwartz opened the scoring from the Kraken. Justin Schultz one-timed a drop pass from Alex Wennberg and Schwartz battled in a crowd to tip the shot home. The Kraken had an early 7-1 shots advantage, but after Colorado notched three shots on a power play, the Avalanche struck with a short-handed goal. With Carson Soucy in the box for slashing, Makar sent a lead pass to JT Compher who slid a shot past Kraken goalie Grubauer. Three minutes later, McKinnon scored the first of two goals to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.
“I didn’t think we had a slow start,” said Avalanche coach Jared Bodnar in the post-game press conference. “They scored the first goal but that doesn’t mean we had a slow start. We did get better as the game went along.”
The Avs were better in the opening stages of the third period. Only 1:18 after Rantanen’s goal, McKinnon waltzed through the Kraken defense and whistled a shot past Grubauer. Rantanen added an empty netter after Grubauer was pulled for an extra attacker with just under three minutes remaining.
For the Kraken, the night ended the way it began. On a power play in the final minute, Schwartz tipped home a shot from Schultz at the point.
“We did a few good things, but we didn’t do them for 60 minutes,” said Oleksiak. “Now we have a quick turnaround to get ready.”
The Kraken and Avalanche square off in game four on Monday night. The series returns to Ball Arena in Denver on Wednesday night.
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- A seat was kept open in the press box for Andy Eide, longtime Seattle hockey writer who passed away on Apr. 14. Eide was the Seattle correspondent for NHL.com and also wrote for SeattleSports.com and appeared on the Sounds of Hockey podcast. Eide suffered a stroke in the press box before the Kraken’s game with the Edmonton Oilers and never recovered. He was an advocate for the NHL coming to Seattle and covered the Seattle Thunderbirds junior team for several years. Sadly, his passing came on the final day of the regular season and he never got to see a Kraken playoff game. Eide’s seat in the press box was left vacant last night. A bouquet of flowers and Eide’s familiar cap were placed on the ledge in front of his seat. Before the opening faceoff the Kraken announced they were dedicating the game to Andy Eide.
- Jaden Schwartz came into the game as the leading playoff scorer on the Kraken. Schwartz, who won a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues in 2019, now has 57 playoff points in his career. The 30-year-old forward has 28 goals and 29 assists in 90 playoff games.
- Jesper Froden returned to the Kraken lineup in place of Morgan Geekie. Earlier the Kraken had said that Geekie had missed the morning practice as a `maintenance day.’ Chris Driedger, who’s played for the Coachella Valley Firebirds this season after coming back from an off-season knee injury, was listed as an `extra’ on the Kraken roster last night. Driedger and Philipp Grubauer were the Kraken’s two regular goalies’ last season. The Avs’ Andrew Cogliano, who missed the final game of the regular season and first two games of the series with an upper-body injury, returned to the Colorado lineup last night.
- The Kraken were 0-for-5 on the power play last night. When asked about the Avalanche penalty killers, Beniers noted, “they’re really aggressive. They make it tough for us. We have to work through it.”
S- Jaden Schwartz (Justin Schultz, Alex Wennberg) 6:08. C- J.T. Compher (Cale Makar, Arturri Lehkonen) SH 16:07. C- Nathan McKinnon (Mikko Rantanen, Devon Toews) 19:15.
C- Makar (Alex Newhook) 4:33. S- Jamie Oleksiak (Yanni Gourde, Oliver Bjorkstrand) 13:10. S- Matty Beniers (Jared McCann, Jordan Eberle) 13:10.
C- Rantanen (Toews) 3:01. C- McKinnon (Bowen Byram, Evan Rodrigues) 4:29. C- Rantanen (Lehkonen) EN 17:46. S- Schwartz (Schultz) PP !9:20.
Shots on Goal- Colorado 34, Seattle 29.
Penalty Minutes- Colorado 12, Seattle 6.
Referees- Kyle Rehman, Jean Hebert. Linesmen- Jonny Murray, Travis Gawryletz. Standby Officials- Tom Chmielewski, Trent Knorr.
Three Stars- 1. Nathan McKinnon, C 2. Matty Beniers, S. 3. Cale Makar, S.