In a game ripe for a letdown, the Seattle Kraken started quick and held off a third period push to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 7-4 at KeyBank Center Monday.
Seattle (8-13-1) scored thrice in the first period to build a lead and added on throughout for the team’s fourth win in the last five games. Buffalo (8-11-3) outshot the Kraken in the third period and scored twice to pull within two goals but ultimately were outlasted.
Twelve Kraken players recorded points while Carson Soucy and Brandon Tanev scored the franchise’s first two short-handed goals to stake Seattle to a 2-0 lead. Jared McCann and Mason Appleton scored twice, Tanev had three points, and Chris Driedger made 32 saves to win in back-to-back starts.
“What it’s been has been different guys contributing at the right time and at different times,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s what gives a team confidence when somebody goes out of the lineup, somebody new comes in and contributes and that’s everybody’s job to be ready to come in and contribute in whatever way the team needs.”
Monday’s game was a test for the Kraken and one that may not have been obvious.
Coming after five games against the league’s best, and winning three of them, it would have been easy for Seattle to overlook the Sabres. It could have a been a night to exhale and take a breather.
“They gave us a late push with a couple late goals,” Tanev said. “But at the end of the day we get a great win here for our group.”
Shorties set tone for the Kraken against Sabres
Two short-handed goals opened the scoring for the Kraken and gave them the lead.
First, it was Yanni Gourde who forechecked hard on the penalty kill. He stripped the puck and threw it out to Soucy in the high slot. Soucy fired a slap shot that beat Sabres goalie Dustin Tokarski at 5:47 of the first period.
“[Gourde] could kind of sense that and he got up and got on top of it,” Hakstol said. “Those guys have the green light to go when they can without creating a ton of risk… I thought it was just a real good read to jump the first one.”
The Kraken were short-handed later in the period, and Tanev stole the puck in the Seattle end and took off while fighting Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin with one arm. Tanev drew a penalty, but before it could be assessed, he fired a one-handed shot that was stopped. The rebound came right to him and he snuck it in the net to make it 2-0 at 14:40 of the first.
“Your overall mindset is to try to do the job and kill the penalty and you get an opportunity to take a puck out,” Tanev said. “Then you try to take a puck to the net and create a scoring chance and I was fortunate enough to get a great bounce and have the puck in the net.”
With the two goals, Seattle became the third team this season to score multiple short-handed goals in the same game and the seventh expansion team to score multiple short-handed goals during their inaugural season.
“A couple of incredible efforts on those goals,” Appleton said. “You come into a building and it kind of sucked the air right out of it when you score goals like that. So that was real good for us and the way we want to start games on the road for sure.”
McCann scored his first of the night at 19:04 of the first to give Seattle a commanding 3-0 lead at the intermission.
Kraken have answers for Sabres all night
The Sabres scored at 1:53 of the second period to pull within 3-1, but the Kraken had an answer. Morgan Geekie took the puck deep into the Sabres corner and flung a one-handed pass back to McCann who was all alone in front for his second of the night to make it 4-1 at 7:59 of the second.
Jeff Skinner scored his first of two at 17:27 of the second to pull the Sabres back to within two at 4-2. The Kraken once again responded with Appleton scoring from in close at 18:09 to restore the three-goal lead and score his first of the night.
“Obviously there’s pretty goals, but you know those count the same as the gritty ones,” Appleton said.
Skinner scored his second 37 seconds into the third period to again pull the Sabres to within a pair at 5-3. Once again the Kraken answered. This time it was Jaden Schwartz with his fifth of the season at 13:44 to make it 6-3.
Dylan Cozens scored at 18:27 to keep the Sabres’ hopes alive, cutting the Kraken lead to 6-4. Eventually the Sabres would pull Tokarski for an extra skater, and Appleton hit the empty net to finish the scoring and send the Kraken home with two points.
+ Jordan Eberle left the game in the second period with an injury and did not play in the third. Hakstol did not have an update after the game.
+ Will Borgen played for the second straight time and the former Sabre defenseman picked up his first NHL point by assisting on Appleton’s first goal.
+ The Kraken scored seven goals for the first time in franchise history.
+ Gourde’s assist on Soucy’s goal was his 200th career point. He reached the mark in 328 games. Five active players who were undrafted reached 200 in fewer games.
+ Seattle will wrap up its current four-game road trip Wednesday in Detroit to take on the Red Wings.