Win or lose for the Kraken against the Bruins, Thursday was destined to be a memorable night at Climate Pledge Arena. But if Jaden Schwartz’s go-ahead goal with 4:10 left in the game had just held up, it would have been unforgettable.
Instead, the Bruins showed why they are the best team in the NHL, turning the game on its ear late and delivering a devastating 6-5 loss to the Kraken, who—on effort alone—deserved at least a point in the standings for this one.
“The compete level was outstanding all the way through the game,” said Kraken coach Dave Hakstol. “There was a lot of intensity to the game, there was pace, obviously a lot of back and forth, especially during the second period and then late in the hockey game.”
The loss was damaging to Seattle’s playoff hopes. Vegas came back from a two-goal deficit to beat Calgary in overtime Thursday, which meant not only did the Golden Knights pull five points ahead of the Kraken for first place in the Pacific Division, but Calgary is now back within four points of Seattle for fourth place. As of now, the Kraken are in the top wild card spot, but every passing loss makes their hold on their first playoff berth feel more and more tenuous. These were two more important points that slipped through Seattle’s tentacles.
Here are our Three Takeaways from a thrilling but painful defeat.
Takeaway #1: Was that our first taste of playoff hockey?
The Kraken came out flying early in the first period, and they looked very aware of the fact they were playing the NHL’s best team and needed to be on top of their game. The way they were defending and forechecking in the early going was the way you would expect them to play, should they reach the playoffs. They were on pucks in the blink of an eye, making the extra effort to deflect passes away in their end of the ice, and making life miserable on Boston defenders in their zone.
“I think this is a game that this room really embraces,” said Jamie Oleksiak, who scored his career-best seventh goal in the second period. “We obviously want to be a playoff team, and Boston’s had a lot of success. So, I think whenever we’re playing these guys, we want to make sure that we’re bringing our ‘A’ game. And I think we did a respectable job tonight, just not enough.”
Matty Beniers scored just 40 seconds into the game, and it was one of those moments that felt like the roof might blow off Climate Pledge Arena.
“It was a little taste of what playoffs is gonna be,” said Beniers. “I haven’t played in the playoffs, but I know a lot of guys here have, and that’s what it’s going to be like farther down the road and for the games from here on out.”
As the contest went on, things only got more exciting. The Kraken and Bruins traded goal after goal in the second period, before carrying a 5-5 tie into the third. And just when it seemed like Seattle was going to pull off a signature win, the Bruins snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
“It stinks we didn’t get to pull that one out, but it was a good game,” said Beniers.
Takeaway #2: Response goals at both ends, but a late tying goal killed Seattle
Aside from the playoff-like intensity and atmosphere, the thing that made this game so fun to watch was the quick responses that the teams had for one another after goals were scored.
Just 1:06 after Vince Dunn scored from the point early in the second, David Pastrnak turned Adam Larsson inside out and tucked in a highlight-reel goal at the other end.
Oleksiak’s tally came 58 seconds after Brad Marchand gave Boston a 3-2 lead at 8:49 of the middle frame. And Yanni Gourde got a good-luck bounce (he had it coming after a very unfortunate own goal against San Jose on Monday) off Charlie McAvoy for a power-play goal. That was 1:02 after the Kraken had conceded a short-handed goal to Patrice Bergeron.
But in the “response goal” department, Boston had the last laugh.
The second Schwartz tipped Will Borgen’s shot-pass over the shoulder of Jeremy Swayman at 15:50 of the third period, we somehow just knew another response goal was coming. We could feel it in our bones.
Sure enough, this one took just 29 seconds, as Brandon Carlo somehow got left all alone on the doorstep to deflect a Hampus Lindholm pass by Philipp Grubauer.
“We put ourselves in position with the four-on-four goal to go ahead late in the hockey game, and that’s the one that was a little bit too easy,” said Hakstol. “We didn’t make them work for that one.”
Once that tying goal went in, Boston had the momentum and didn’t look back. The Jake DeBrusk tip-in goal came at 18:22, and there would be no responding to that one.
Takeaway #3: Boston is really good
Sometimes you have to just tip your hat. We’ve watched the Kraken play some very good and very bad hockey over the last couple seasons, and Thursday, they played very good hockey. Sure, there were some mistakes and breakdowns, but Seattle is a good team that brought perhaps its best effort of the season.
Yet, the Boston Bruins had answers for everything the Kraken threw at them. And when push came to shove, the Bruins’ stars shined just enough to earn them their 92nd and 93rd points in the standings.
“They’re always in the right spots, and they can make you pay on your mistakes and make a lot of plays,” said Beniers. “So, they’re definitely really tough to play against, and you gotta key in on them. They made us pay for a couple tonight.”
All three players on Boston’s top line—Marchand, Bergeron, and DeBrusk—had a goal on the night, and Pastrnak, who leads the second line, had a stunner of a goal and oodles of chances.
“Well, that’s a hell of a line,” said Hakstol of Boston’s top trio. “I mean those guys have been really good. You look at the two guys that have played together for I don’t know how many years, how many games there, they got chemistry. They’re hard to handle, they’re competitive, and they can make plays.”
The Kraken will take a day off Friday before returning to practice Saturday, as they prepare for another difficult test in the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Stings losing a big game where it feels like they were so close. But it was a phenomenal game to watch and it was awesome to see our guys competing and playing hard the way they did. Boston is just a much more talented team, and potentially a historically great one. Hard to be upset with the performance our guys gave.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the “reverse retro” sweaters are 0-4. Maybe time to retire them?
The Kraken hung with the likely winner of this year’s President’s Trophy and gave them a run for their money. Disappointing to get the loss, but a great game to build on. I hope we don’t fall out of the playoffs.