The Kraken flipped the script on the Oilers Tuesday, just four days after Edmonton embarrassed Seattle 7-2 at Climate Pledge Arena.
In the first meeting between these two teams, Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer was pulled just four minutes into the game, as Edmonton sliced and diced Seattle’s disjointed defense and potted four goals in the first period.
Tuesday at Rogers Place, it was a different story. The Kraken came out looking a lot more structurally sound in the first period and got to the intermission down just 1-0 after a power-play goal by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Then, after Connor McDavid got a highlight-reel goal early in the second, Seattle turned it on and hung four goals of their own on Stuart Skinner, sending him to the bench for Jack Campbell.
“Obviously, it was a lot of emphasis on what happened last game [against Edmonton],” said Adam Larsson, who extended his point streak to a career-high seven games. “That kind of made us even more hungry today. I thought from top to bottom, every guy played a solid game.”
In the end, the Kraken exorcised their Oilers demons and earned an enormous 5-2 win, putting themselves back into third place in the Pacific Division and starting their longest road trip of the season on a positive note. Here are our Three Takeaways.
Takeaway #1: Crucial offside challenge took serious cojones
By the end of the first period Tuesday, Edmonton’s league-leading power play was three-for-three on the season against Seattle. Early in the third, it appeared that lethal unit had improved to four-for-four when McDavid found Leon Draisaitl through the seam, and Draisaitl rifled it past Martin Jones.
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But wait! Coach Dave Hakstol challenged the goal for an offside entry into the zone!
Replay showed that Zach Hyman’s trailing skate blade was just a fraction of an inch over the line before the puck, negating the goal and keeping the score 4-2.
That was a gutsy call by Hakstol and a huge catch by video coaches Tim Ohashi and Brady Morgan.
“That’s Tim and Brady doing a great job,” said Hakstol. “Working through their process, taking the short amount of time that they have, and they got it right. And that’s a really tight call, but it’s clear, and at the end of the day, that is the right call.”
Had the call gone the other way, the score would have been 4-3, and Seattle would have gone right back to the PK against a power play that was having its way with the Kraken.
Of course, the goal being negated meant Jamie Oleksiak’s penalty was not yet over. The PK absolutely had to finish off that crucial kill, or the successful challenge would have been effectively moot. Seattle’s PKers finished the job, though, sapping what would have surely been a big momentum swing for Edmonton.
Takeaway #2: That second period escalated quickly
Seattle certainly looked better in the first 20 minutes than it did in the previous matchup against Edmonton, but when the second period started, McDavid went back to his dastardly ways and scored a banger to make it 2-0. In that moment, we had visions of the best player in the world again taking over the game and piling up points for another easy Oilers win.
Instead, the Kraken minimized the damage done by the superstar to just that one point on the night, and they completely turned the game on its ear from then on.
“I think we actually played pretty well in the first,” said Yanni Gourde. “I thought we came out, played hard, did the right thing, put the puck deep. Second period, we got that one goal, and it really gave us some wings offensively.”
Matty Beniers got the scoring started with a baseball swing at a Daniel Sprong rebound, notching Seattle’s second power-play goal in as many games. Then just 31 seconds later, Beniers again got on the scoresheet, throwing a puck at Skinner that dropped right to Jaden Schwartz for an easy tap in that tied the game.
Beniers putting up two points was a sight for sore eyes. The star rookie had gone eight games without a goal and only had two assists during that same stretch.
But it didn’t stop there. At 12:42 of the frame, Justin Schultz rifled a puck on net that Skinner kicked out into the slot. Eeli Tolvanen batted the rebound back toward the Edmonton goal but hit Gourde, who quickly spun and slapped it by Skinner.
Coincidentally, Gourde’s goal was also his first since Dec. 11, the same night Beniers had last scored.
Finally, off an offensive-zone face-off, Schwartz fired a puck from the corner that hit Skinner in the mask and caromed out in front. Alex Wennberg picked it up, spun, and laid a perfect blind pass on the tape of Jared McCann, who buried it in an open net for his team-leading 17th goal.
The fourth goal ended the night for Skinner and put the game on the rails for Seattle.
Takeaway #3: Off on the right foot
After a mostly painful December, it has been good to see the Kraken turn the page and start the new calendar year off on the right foot with consecutive wins over the Islanders and Oilers. Seattle has played the right way in these games, showing good structure, improved special teams, and patience to wait for its chances and capitalize.
“It was really nice,” said Larsson. “I thought the way we played too, it’s good to get rewarded.”
Meanwhile, Martin Jones has returned to the form we saw from him earlier this season, stopping 48 out of 51 shots in these two games. He was calm, cool, and collected against the Oilers, turning away 30 shots on the night.
A big piece of that was the way Seattle defended, holding Edmonton’s stars mostly at bay and allowing Jones to see pucks. This win was a true team effort.
That is Kraken hockey, which the group had certainly lost sight of after the end of its early-season streak of success and throughout the December doldrums. Here’s hoping they can keep building as they head to eastern Canada.