On a night that the Kraken should have celebrated the NHL debut of top prospect Matty Beniers, they fell apart in the third period to blow a two-goal lead on the way to a 5-3 loss to the Calgary Flames Tuesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The loss was disappointing, but Beniers was not.
“I was excited about the way it went,” Beniers said. “I got to play with two great players so they made it pretty easy on me. I thought we did a good job. Getting that [first point] is nice. It’s just a load off your back and like, ‘Alright, I can settle in.’ I thought we could have had a couple more, we were all over them.”
He had an assist for his first NHL point, and his line, with Ryan Donato and Jordan Eberle, were dangerous seemingly every time on the ice. Beniers was dynamic, he pushed the puck, played with poise, and was outstanding at both ends of the ice.
“At the end of the day you play with good players, good things usually happen and Matty’s a good player,” Donato said. “It was a fun game. Obviously not the way we want it to turn at the end, but I was happy for him to see he’s got his first point.”
All the promise Beniers displayed was doused with water by the third period turn of events.
The Flames (45-16-9) had a hat trick from Matthew Tkachuk, a goal and an assist from Noah Hanifin, and two assists from Johnny Gaudreau, which put him across the 100-point mark in a season for the first time in his NHL career. Jacob Markstrom started the game but allowed three goals on 15 shots and was replaced by Dan Vladar at the start of the third period. Vladar stopped all seven shots he faced.
Donato, Victor Rask, and Adam Larsson scored for Seattle (23-44-6), who end the season series against the Flames 0-4-0. The Kraken allowed four unanswered goals in the third period.
With Seattle ahead 3-1, the problems started early in the third when multiple penalties put the Kraken shorthanded.
“I don’t know where to begin, I think [we] took too many penalties obviously,” Donato said. “But I don’t think necessarily that was our own fault. At the same time, I think we were just competing. Emotions ran high, both at the refs and us and unfortunately, they had a very big impact on the game. It is what it is. I think we just get ready and come back for next game.”
Tkachuk cut the lead to 3-2 at 19:17 with a power-play goal, and then Andrew Mangiapane tied it at 5:33 after an extended Flames possession in the Seattle end.
Prior to the Mangiapane goal, he appeared to trip up Vince Dunn behind the net and force a turnover. That turnover led to the Calgary possession that ultimately tied the game. Kraken coach Dave Hakstol called timeout afterward to settle his team.
“Game was being called pretty close tonight,” Hakstol said. “I felt like there was an obvious call that was missed that led directly to the tying goal, and I just didn’t want our guys distracted by that. So wanted to take the time out to settle things down. We did that. We came up with a couple of real good shifts after that and got back to it.”
It would be Calgary who struck next on a goal from Hanifin, who one-timed a shot on another Calgary power play at 14:10 to put the Flames ahead 4-3. Tkachuk would score a late empty-net goal to complete the hat trick and seal the 5-3 final.
Beniers provided first period energy
The first point for Beniers wasn’t cheap, it was an elite play. After the Kraken kept Calgary from breaking out, Beniers had the puck at the top of the zone. He faked a shot and somehow spotted an open Donato in the far circle. He rifled a pass right to Donato’s tape who one-timed home his 15th goal to reach a new career high and give Seattle a 1-0 lead at 14:13 of the first period.
The Flames would answer at 16:51 when a Hanifin shot was tipped past Driedger by Tkachuk to square the game at 1-1. For Hanifin, it was the fifth straight goal that he had an assist on – after setting up all four goals against Seattle on Saturday – four of which were primary helpers.
Rask gave the Kraken a 2-1 lead at 3:06 of the second period. He was the beneficiary of great work along the boards from Kole Lind who got the puck deep to Yanni Gourde below the Flames net. Rask was left alone in front, and Gourde got it to him for the veteran’s second goal with the Kraken.
Moments after killing off a Larsson high-sticking penalty, the Swedish defenseman would come out of the box and score to make it 3-1 at 17:10. Alex Wennberg handed off the puck to Larsson who made one quick move to his right and scored with a wrist shot.
Beniers by the numbers
Beniers logged 17:10 of ice time, which was third among the Kraken forwards, and he had one shot on goal. He went 5-for-12 in the faceoff circle and got 1:30 of power-play time.
“His hockey sense and his ability to know and understand what’s around him on the ice showed to be excellent tonight,” Hakstol said. “He looked comfortable in traffic and that’s a big challenge on night number one. But most importantly is that he just really showed good poise throughout the entire day on the ice and off the ice. He played a good hockey game. He played hard. He made plays.”
His underlying numbers were equally as good. With Beniers on the ice at 5-on-5, the Kraken had 57.89 percent of all unblocked shot attempts and had an impressive 63.68 percent of all shot quality. It’s just one game and he’s still 19 years old, but its hard to imagine a better debut.