Two games into a grueling 14-day, seven-game road trip, the Seattle Kraken are 2-0-0. Thursday night it was a 5-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena.
The Kraken have 11 road wins so far this season, which matches their total number of road wins for all of last season.
It was the second period again on Thursday, and for the second straight game, they scored four in the middle frame. They also scored four goals in the second period of Tuesday’s 5-2 win in Edmonton.
“We weathered the storm,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “First ten minutes they were skating through the neutral zone, they had a lot of speed and pace coming through. We weathered that, but that’s a dangerous way to start the hockey game. But once we got through that ten minutes, we settled the game down a little bit. That set us up for a big second period.”
Martin Jones made his third consecutive start for the Kraken (21-12-4), who have won three straight, and made 26 saves for his 17th win on the year. Vince Dunn had a goal and two assists, Eeli Tolvanen, Matty Beniers, Jared McCann, and Alex Wennberg each scored a goal.
John Tavares had a power-play goal for Toronto (23-9-7), who lost at home for the second straight game. Matt Murray made 21 saves.
Toronto had the early edge and took the game’s first eight shots, forcing Jones to make nine first-period saves to keep Seattle in the game. The Maple Leafs outshot the Kraken 9-3 in the first period.
“Once we got our legs and started checking and started skating we were able to, I thought, control a lot of the play tonight,” Jones said.
It was a different story in the second period as the Kraken came to life.
Tolvanen scored on a one-timer from the circle to give Seattle a 1-0 lead at 7:02 of the second. It was the third straight start for Tolvanen since being claimed off waivers back on Dec. 12th. In those three starts, he has two goals and an assist.
The Maple Leafs tied the game, 1-1, on a goal by Tavares at 10:54 on the tail end of a four-minute double-minor power play. Seattle had killed off the first three minutes of a high-sticking call on Yanni Gourde but couldn’t hold the potent Toronto power play off forever.
A potential game-changing goal by Toronto was answered quickly.
Just 14 seconds later, at 11:08, Dunn gave the Kraken their lead back, 2-1, with a slap shot from just outside the top of the circle. Oliver Bjorkstrand provided an excellent screen in front and Murray never saw the shot as it flew by him.
That goal changed the two teams’ fates.
McCann would follow that up with his team-leading 18th marker at 13:50 to make it 3-1, and then Beniers spun and fired the puck to make it 4-1 at 17:25. Beniers leads all NHL rookies with 13 goals, and moments after he scored, it was announced that he had been selected to the NHL All-Star Game.
“I’m just happy we won,” Beniers said. “They’re a great team; playing them on the road is hard. We’re getting a little momentum back and playing good hockey so I’m excited about that. The All-Star Game is pretty special, so I’m excited about that as well.”
Wennberg added a goal at 2:57 of the third, scored on a cross-ice pass from Gourde to make it 5-1.
The road trip continues for Seattle with a game at the Ottawa Senators Saturday night.
“I’ve never been on a trip this long,” Hakstol said. “We’re taking it a piece at a time. We got a good win at home before we left town. A nice win on the road within the division in Edmonton and to be able to come in here and play well again, that set us up well, but we have a long road ahead of us.”
Vince Dunn shines in homecoming
Growing up in the Toronto area, Dunn had quite the homecoming Thursday.
He had three points, played over 19 minutes, and took three shots. When he was on the ice at even strength, the Kraken had 73.53 percent of all shot attempts and 53.28 percent of the shot quality.
“I think a lot of bounces went my way,” Dunn said. “All my points were created by the forwards working hard, finding me to get the puck so a lot of credit to them. They make it easy for me to play my game.”
Beyond that, he and defensive partner Adam Larsson played a tight-checking defense and held Toronto superstar Auston Matthews to no even-strength points and three shots.
- Tolvanen becomes the fourth player in Kraken history to record a point in the first three games he’s played.
- He joins Beniers, Andre Burakovsky, and Daniel Sprong in doing so.
- Larsson did not register a point, ending his seven-game point streak.
- All three of Dunn’s points came in the second period, which is the first time in his NHL career he recorded three in one period.
- The Maple Leafs had not lost a game at home in regulation since Nov. 11.