Scoring thrice in the second period, the Seattle Kraken won their third straight game for only the second time in franchise history with a 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on Thursday.
“We’re having fun; it’s way more fun to win,” Kraken center Morgan Geekie said. “We’re having a good time, we’re playing solid hockey at both ends of the rink.”
It was about as complete a game as the Kraken have played this season, and it was punctuated by Martin Jones making 22 saves for his first Seattle shutout, plus another good night from Seattle’s fourth line which had a goal from Geekie and two assists from Daniel Sprong.
“We checked well all game,” Jones said. “In the D-zone we took away the middle of the ice. Then we were able to get some exits and get on the forecheck.”
Alex Wennberg scored twice for the Kraken (6-4-2) who move to 4-1-1 on the road this season.
“It was straight up 60 minutes of hockey,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “We just wanted to come play a real good road game in a tough building. It’s a building where momentum can get rolling.”
Marc-Andre Fleury made 19 saves for the Wild (5-5-1) who had won their previous two games.
After a low-event first period, the Kraken exploded in the second.
Geekie tipped in a Sprong shot at 5:02 of the second to open the scoring and give the Kraken a 1-0 lead. It was Geekie’s fourth goal in his last five games and third straight game with a goal.
“I just stick to my game for the most part,” Geekie said of his hot streak. “I have a couple of good linemates, which helps. I think we have a lot of chemistry, and I just try to be in the right place at the right time and create offense.”
Jamie Oleksiak scored his third at 11:34 on a back-and-forth passing play with Yanni Gourde. Oleksiak had one goal in 71 games last season.
A little controversy gave Seattle a 3-0 lead at 14:47 during a Kraken power play. Sprong’s shot deflected off a Minnesota stick and up into the air. Wennberg appeared to head butt it past Fleury. That is not allowed, and initially the goal was disallowed. But replay showed that Wennberg did not contact the puck with his head, and it instead bounced off his back; that is allowed. The play was reviewed, and Wennberg was credited with the goal.
“I saw the puck right away, so I had plenty of time [to think],” Wennberg said. “The first thought was to try to hit it sideways because [Shane Wright] was there, but you’re not allowed to score with your head. So, I feel like I ducked last second. It’s hard to say that’s what I wanted to do, but I’ll keep it that way.”
Wennberg scored in a more conventional manner at 10:35 of the third period when he tipped a shot from Will Borgen in for his second of the night to make it 4-0.
The Jones file
Playing his first game since leaving the team briefly in Calgary to take care of a personal issue Jones, showed no ill effect of missing time.
His best period was the second period. While his teammates were scoring three times, Jones had to make 12 saves. With the lead in the third, he was sharp and didn’t allow a momentum-changing goal.
“He picked up right where he left off from the Pittsburgh game,” Hakstol said. “He obviosuly had a couple days in between, but he did a really good job of being mentally and physically ready to go… Jonesy had a couple saves from in tight [in the second]… I thought in the third period we closed it out really well.”
Jones had great help from the guys in front of him, who mostly kept the Wild to the outside and limited dangerous shots against. It was the first shutout for Jones as a Kraken and his 26th career blanking. Jones had previously shut out the Wild three times in his career.
Overall, he’s stopped 55 of his last 56 shots faced, going back to a 3-1 win over Pittsburgh this past Saturday.
- Jared McCann did not play Thursday, and Hakstol said the forward was out day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
- Shane Wright played in McCann’s place, centering a line with Yanni Gourde and Brandon Tanev. He established a career high with 13:45 of ice time, including 1:55 on the Kraken’s power play. “I thought Wrighter and his line played a solid game,” Hakstol said. “Five-on-five, they were reliable in a 200-foot sense. I thought Shane’s confidence grew throughout the game.”
- With Jones’s return to the lineup, the Kraken sent goalie Christopher Gibson back to the American Hockey League’s Coachella Valley Firebirds.
- Seattle enjoyed its second straight game with a blank sheet on the penalty kill, killing off both of the Wild attempts. The Kraken were 1-for-2 with their own power play.