They had to grind it out, but the Kraken found a way to their sixth straight win thanks to a two-goal third period and a strong Philipp Grubauer performance in a 4-3 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at Key Bank Center Tuesday.
Grubauer kept the Kraken within striking distance by making 32 saves in his first start since Dec. 30.
“I wouldn’t say it was our best,” forward Jordan Eberle said. “Give them credit, they played well and created a lot. Grubi was excellent tonight, he made some big saves and kept us ahead.”
Seattle twice erased a one-goal deficit and started the third period tied at 2-2. That’s when Matty Beniers made his presence known. He gave the Kraken their first lead, 3-2 when he crashed the net and scored on a rebound at 1:06 of the third period.
“The goal he scored at the start of the third period is indicative of how he plays,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said of Beniers. “He finds a way inside, he’s moved to a different spot on the power play, and he’s been able to find a few inside there.”
Four minutes later, at 5:17, he spotted defenseman Justin Schultz pinching in from the point and put the puck right on his stick from behind the net. Schultz scored, and Seattle took a 4-2 lead.
“Those are timely goals,” Eberle said. “Those are goals that when you get into playoff times and you get those momentum swings if you can score like that at key times, those are huge.”
Alex Tuch notched a six-on-five goal at 19:38 to cut the lead to 4-3, but the Kraken survived the final 20 seconds to pick up win No. 5 to open their seven-game road trip and a win on the second night of a back-to-back.
“We just keep working, that’s all,” Hakstol said. “We’re not quite halfway through the year, these guys work hard together, they care about having success together. Games like this when it’s a back-to-back where it doesn’t look that pretty, it doesn’t look that good but that’s a great win.”
Beniers, Eberle, and Schultz each had a goal and assist for the Kraken (24-12-4), while Andre Burakovsky had two assists. Seattle goes for seven straight in a big game Thursday when they travel to the Boston Bruins.
Tuch scored twice for the Sabres (20-17-2), who had won six of eight. Former Tri-City American Eric Comrie made 18 saves.
The Sabres went up 1-0 at 9:56 of the first when Tuch converted on a pass from Tage Thompson.
Seattle would respond and tie the game 1-1 on a power-play goal from Eberle at 18:52. Parked in the slot, Eberle would deflect a shot from Burakovsky past Comrie.
“That goal gave us some life to get us back to even. That’s one of the key moments to the game,” Hakstol said.
In the second period, it would be Buffalo who struck first again on a goal from Rasmus Dahlin at 5:12 of the second period. He found a shooting lane while on the power play and let a wrist shot go to make it 2-1 Sabres.
Schultz would then send a perfect pass to the goal mouth where Yanni Gourde tipped it in at 8:59 to get the game square at 2-2.
“The other key turning point in the game is Gourdie’s goal,” Hakstol said. “That’s a heck of a play by Schultzie and he finds a way to get one that turns out to be the game-winner as well.”
Rebound game for Grubauer
Grubauer had been off for five games but showed no rust Tuesday while making several key saves.
“It’s been almost two weeks, but it felt pretty good,” Grubauer said. “The first period was a little rusty, but after that I found my game. From then on it was good.”
His best work came in the third period with the Kraken holding on to the lead. Trying desperately to score and tie the game, the Sabres threw everything at the net and pushed. Grubauer made 17 saves in the third period and only allowed the six-on-five goal.
It would be enough to steer Seattle to a win down the stretch and a good sign if both Grubauer and Martin Jones start turning in good performances each night.
- The Sabres are 0-4-0 all-time against the Kraken.
- Beniers’ five-game goal streak is the longest in Seattle franchise history.
- Vince Dunn had an assist to extend his point streak to four straight games.
- With two assists, Burakovsky has a four-game point streak.