The Seattle Kraken are heading home to Climate Pledge Arena Friday night with a chance to clinch their first playoff series win ever.
Seattle withstood an offensive attack by the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in the game’s final five minutes to hold on to a 3-2 victory, the same margin they lead by in the best-of-seven series, three games to two.
Yanni Gourde, who has three assists in the series, scored the game winner. After killing a penalty, Carson Soucy’s shot from the point was deflected by Gourde into the open net at 1:20 of the third period. Gourde was immense for the Kraken. He played 30 shifts for over 22 minutes with three shots on goal, four hits, three takeaways and one blocked shot. Gourde almost tallied an empty netter in the final minute but the Avs’ Evan Rodrigues blocked the shot.
“This is the situation you want to be in,” said Gourde, who won two Stanley Cups as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. “You want to be up in the playoffs. But the fourth game is always the toughest to get. We know that.”
“We’ve played to our identity. We’ll continue to try to do that. That’s the most important thing,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “You get to this time of year, the stage is a little bigger, it’s a little brighter. There’s a little bit more on the line and everything means a little bit more, but you still have to fall back on who you are. And that’s where I believe our veteran guys have done a nice job, in keeping our group pretty even-keeled and just kind of focusing on the next job at hand.”
When someone sits down to write a history of Kraken hockey, Tye Kartye will get a mention regardless of what he does the rest of his career. An undrafted player coming out of juniors, who started the season on the AHL Coachella Valley Firebirds fourth line, Kartye made his NHL debut last night. On his first-ever shot on goal in a National Hockey League game, he scored off a pass from Jordan Eberle, who had the overtime game winner on Monday night to even the series, 2-2.
With the score tied, 1-1, at 9:59 of the second period, Will Borgen knocked down Nathan McKinnon along the left wing boards in the Kraken defensive zone, It appeared that McKinnon was off-balance and Borgen nudged him to the ice, but the Avs’ leading scorer was irate that no penalty was called on Borgen. He slammed his stick on the boards and argued with the refs as he skated to the bench. With McKinnon bickering his replacement, J.T. Compher was late getting on the ice, practically given the Kraken a man advantage.
Meanwhile, Borgen had head-manned the puck to Eberle, who circled the net and hit the streaking Kartye. Besides making his Kraken debut, Kartye was inserted on the top scoring line playing alongside Eberle and Matty Beniers. In a delicious bit of irony, the last player to score his first NHL goal in the playoffs was Colorado defenseman Cale Makar. Makar’s late hit on Jared McCann in game four, opened the door for Kartye to be inserted in the lineup. McCann missed last night’s game (and probably more) after crashing his head into the boards, while Makar sat out a one-game suspension for the hit.
“I was just kind of driving the net, and I saw he had the puck and tried to get open,” said Kartye. “And, obviously, (Eberle) made a pretty special pass there. A year ago, a year and a half ago, this was my wildest dream. So, this day’s been pretty special.”
Morgan Geekie opened the scoring with his second goal of the playoffs despite missing Game 2 because of the birth of his first child (he had eight goals in the regular season). After a scoreless first period where the Kraken had a 16-8 shot advantage, neither team had a shot in the first six minutes of the second period. The play started when Alex Wennberg won a puck battle along the boards from Avs’ defenseman Bo Byrum and centered a pass to Jaden Schwartz, one of the Kraken’s best players in the series. Georgiev made the save, but defenseman Devon Toews had his back to the puck and Geekie swooped in to fire home.
“I was just in the right spot at the right time,” said Geekie, who’s played right wing in the playoffs after mostly manning the center position his first two years with the team.”(Wennberg) made a great play, and Schwartzy put it on net. I just tried to get there and tried to get the rebound.”
That set a new NHL record- the Kraken scoring the opening goal in the first five games of their first ever playoff series. In their previous game, Seattle tied the record of the 1918 Toronto Arenas who defeated the Vancouver Millionaires.
The Avs added a response goal (a goal less than two minutes after an opponent’s goal). Philipp Grubauer who was credited with another quality start – 26 saves on 28 shots- made a soft pass from behind his own net. Mikko Rantanen intercepted the pass and while Grubauer struggled to get back into the net, McKinnon snuck behind the goalie and tapped the puck into the net.
With the first goal of the third period a crucial one, Gourde deflected Soucy’s drive from the point to give the Kraken a 3-1 lead.
“I tried to get to the net for (Oliver) Bjorkstrand to take a shot, and then it went to the point,” Gourde said. “I tried to box my guy out with my left hand, and with my right, that’s my top hand, I was able to tip the puck. A great shot by our defenseman.”
After Grubauer made his best save of the period on Sam Girard with five minutes remaining, the Avs pulled Georgiev for an extra attacker with four minutes left. Colorado would add another goal of the `fluky’ variety.
Evan Rodrigues fired from the point and the puck hit the stick of Wennberg and then went off the shoulder of Jamie Oleksiak into the net at 6:25. Remember, Oleksiak is 6-foot-6, so a smaller player might not have deflected the puck home. For the remainder of the contest, the Kraken played a strong, positional defensive game.
They now head back to Climate Pledge tomorrow night in a position that few expected- a chance to knock off the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs.
- Tye Kartye, recently named the AHL Rookie of the Year, thought he’d playing for the Coachella Valley Firebirds as they began their series with the Colorado Eagles last night in Loveland, Co., located 52 miles north of Denver. When the Kraken recalled him yesterday morning, Kartye called his parents in Kingston, Ontario. They drove to Toronto and caught a plane to Denver, arriving in time for last night’s game. Kartye’s dad Todd wore a Soo Greyhounds cap, the team Tye played for in the Ontario Hockey League. Mom Richelle wore a Coachella Valley Firebirds cap. Hopefully someone will give them Seattle Kraken hats before the next game.
- 1overtime playoff goal. He scored in double overtime of the New York Islanders’ Game 5 Eastern Conference Final victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020. Yanni Gourde’s goal in the final game of that series gave the Lightning a 1-0 victory, as they went on to win the Stanley Cup.
- Seattle had `only’ 14 blocked shots in the game. Jamie Oleksiak led the Kraken with seven blocks. The Kraken had 26 blocks in Game 4 on Monday. Oleksiak had seven blocks in that game and Adam Larsson added four.
- Colorado defenseman Josh Manson missed the last period of last night’s game. According to Avs’ coach Jared Bednar it was a recurrence of the same injury that kept Manson out of the lineup the last month of the regular season.
S- Morgan Geekie (Jaden Schwartz, Alex Wennberg) 6:26. C- Nathan McKinnon (Mikko Rantanen) 7:55. S- Ty Kartye (Jordan Eberle, Will Borgen) 9:59.
S- Yanni Gourde (Carson Soucy, Oliver Bjorkstrand) 1:48. C- Evan Rodrigues (Devon Toes, McKinnon) 16:25.
Shots on Goal- Seattle 29, Colorado 28.
Penalty Minutes- Seattle 4, Colorado 4.
Referees- Dan O’Rourke, T.J. Luxmore. Linesmen- Shandor Alphonso, Bevan Mills.
Three Stars- 1. Ty Kartye. 2. Yanni Gourde. 3. Morgan Geekie