Are you experiencing the following symptoms? High blood pressure, elevated heart rate, wild mood swings, insomnia, fatigue, and general inexplicable sweatiness? Well, that, my friend is Stanley Cup Playoff hockey. The Kraken officially infected their fans with said disease by getting their first home playoff win against the Avalanche in heart-stopping 3-2 overtime fashion Monday. The victory tied the first-round series 2-2, meaning the home fans are guaranteed at least one more postseason game at Climate Pledge Arena.
After jumping out to a two-goal lead in the first period, only to then see Mikko Rantanen score twice in the second, the Kraken stuck with it and treated their fanbase to a magical moment. It was a night that will surely go down in Kraken lore.
“We were kind of joking around before the game that this is the biggest game in Kraken history,” said Jordan Eberle, who scored the deciding goal. “You kind of want to make this a hockey town and have people love going to Kraken games and enjoy the product of playoff hockey.”
After that experience Monday, it’s plain to see Seattle has embraced the Kraken, so mission accomplished, Jordan!
It was a big win, but also a costly one, as Jared McCann, the leading goal scorer for the Kraken in the regular season, was injured on a bad hit by Avalanche superstar Cale Makar. That seemed to ignite tempers and likely morphed this series into one with more hostility than before.
Here are our Three Takeaways from an unforgettable 3-2 overtime Kraken win over the Avalanche.
Takeaway #1: Eberle and Schwartz were the OT heroes
Two minutes into overtime, Jaden Schwartz stole the puck along the wall in the defensive zone and fired it across to Brandon Tanev, who carried it to center ice. Schwartz took off as soon as he passed it, and Tanev hit him in stride at the Colorado blue line, sending Schwartz in on a partial breakaway. He got a good shot off, as his legs were taken out from under him, and although Alexandar Georgiev made the save, Schwartz drew a penalty on Josh Manson.
“I threw it over to [Tanev], and then I just tried to get as much speed as I could,” said Schwartz. “He made an awesome sauce pass, kind of through a couple sticks, and right onto me with speed. So I had a step and was able to draw the penalty and get a decent shot there.”
On the power play, Daniel Sprong—who also sniped a nice power-play goal off the post to make it 2-0 in the first period—took a shot from distance that got partially blocked. The puck skittered to Jordan Eberle, who passed to Schwartz. Schwartz tried to shoot, but that too got blocked, and it again went right back to Eberle. This time, Eberle pulled the trigger and beat Georgiev.
Bedlam ensued in Climate Pledge Arena.
“I was actually in a pretty good spot, and I think one of their players had a big block,” said Schwartz. “And then Eberle had a good, quick stick, good reaction, and it happened fast.”
“Any time you even a series up, it’s a big goal,” said Eberle. “I thought for the most part, we played well tonight. We had a lot of chances, and that’s a really good team over there. We’ve been kind of the underdog since day one, and we’re just trying to fight back into this series, so we’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us.”
Coming into Game 4, the Kraken power play had been abysmal in this series and had been held off the board, except for a late, garbage-time goal by Schwartz in Game 3. We can’t help wondering if that meaningless marker may have given the power play a little confidence boost coming into Monday’s game.
The team also seemed to have a simplified approach that worked wonders. There were very few attempts to make—as John Forslund would call them—“fancy Dan passes.” Instead, Seattle was getting pucks to the top of the zone, sending traffic to the front of the net, and shooting. Simple.
When the team got a manpower advantage early in overtime, the group knew it had to convert.
“You’ve seen a lot of the OT goals in the playoffs, a lot of them, especially early on, have been on the power play,” said Eberle. “It’s kind of been a sore spot for us in the series so far, as far as producing with the man advantage. I know we got one late last game, and maybe that kickstarted us a bit. We get one early in the game, and then obviously the winner.”
Takeaway #2: The script was flipped from Games 2 and 3
After an outstanding first period by the Kraken, you knew the Avalanche and their stars would eventually get on the board. Sure enough, Rantanen potted two in the second period, including a power-play goal that felt like a backbreaker at the very end of the period.
After Rantanen had drawn a cheesy penalty (there were several of those against Seattle on this night) by skating into Borgen’s outstretched arm and grabbing on to make it look like Borgen had wrapped him up, the Kraken had an impressive kill going. They scrambled, blocked shots, and seemed to be giving everything they had to get back to five-on-five, and they almost did it. But Rantanen scored his second of the period with just two ticks left on the penalty and 49 seconds left in the period.
You could almost touch the “here we go again” vibes from the fans in the arena, as the teams went to the dressing rooms tied after 40 minutes for the third game in a row. To their credit, the Kraken didn’t let the results of the previous two contests affect their play late in Game 4. They stuck to their tight structure that allowed them to statistically dominate a lot of this game (Seattle outshot Colorado 43-22 and had 71 percent of the expected goals, per Natural Stat Trick) and pulled off a well-earned win.
“[We just stuck] with it,” said Schwartz. “Every game is back and forth, and we were doing a lot of good things. We know what our game looks like when we’re on, and we just [kept] wearing them down.”
The historic win cut the series down to a best of three now, with the Kraken riding high and heading back to Denver, where they’ve proven they can play with the defending Stanley Cup champs.
Takeaway #3: Jared McCann injured; Cale Makar the culprit
With the Kraken killing one of the several strange penalties called against them in this game—specifically the one where Bowen Byram pinned Yanni Gourde behind Colorado’s net for an extended period, then refused to drop the gloves, so only Gourde got a penalty—Jared McCann got a shorthanded breakaway opportunity. His shot was deflected by Georgiev up and over the glass.
Whistle blown, play dead. Right?
Wrong. Cale Makar blasted McCann into the end boards for seemingly no reason. McCann, who surely wasn’t expecting the hit, took an awkward fall and hit his head on the ice. He stayed down for some time, and after several minutes of attention from Seattle’s medical staff, glided to the tunnel, doubled over in distress. He unsurprisingly did not return.
“It’s never good to see a guy that battles super hard for us all year long go down like that,” said Gourde. “I don’t know what to say about that hit, but it’s tough to see Jared go down there.”
Makar was initially assessed a five-minute major for interference, but after reviewing the penalty, the officials bumped it down to a two-minute minor. For what it’s worth, Sprong’s goal did come on the ensuing power play to make it 2-0. Nonetheless, Hakstol was furious with the hit after the game.
“[It’s] a late hit, where the puck is out of play,” said Hakstol. “Canner shoots that puck, it goes immediately out of play, straight up into the netting, and I don’t know how many feet— I don’t really care about that. I believe the puck is being caught by a fan as Canner is being run into the end wall. So, late hit; really late. No puck in play… Our 40-goal scorer was not available for the rest of the game.”
The Kraken coach said McCann will also be unavailable for Game 5, at least, and likely longer.
Kraken fans did their part by voicing their displeasure with Makar for the rest of the game, aggressively booing him every time he touched the puck, and sometimes just for stepping onto the ice.
Through three games, this series was tame relative to others across the NHL. But after McCann was knocked out of Game 4, it took a feisty turn. There were scrums after seemingly every whistle, and the first period ended with all ten players on the ice splitting off and finding partners with which to skirmish.
Gourde, who has been such an impactful player for Seattle, was the last Kraken player still engaged with Manson when all others had been separated. For his grit, the home crowd saluted Gourde by chanting, “Yanni! Yanni!”
We asked Gourde if he had ever heard fans chanting his name before, and he said: “I think it happened before, yes. Sorry to kill the moment.” Ah, well. It was still pretty awesome. Gourde added, “The fans are so great. This building gets so loud, and they love this game, they love the team, and they’ve been supporting us the first two years. It’s so good to play in a playoff game in front of them.”
This series has surely pivoted into one with more vitriol than it had before.
“It’s playoffs,” said Hakstol. “You get into the middle part of a series here, that intensity continues to rise… It’s not going to go the other direction. It continues to move forward as we get into Game 5 here.”
Ah, yes, Game 5, Wednesday in Denver. Bring your armor.
Omg what a series, so proud to wear the kraken jersey. Definitely looking forward to some big rig retaliation to set the tone for the rest of the series. Hope Jared is alright, those head injuries are so scary. Goosebumps to see and hear the stadium, can’t wait to be there for my first game one day. Let’s go kraken!!!!
Jasper – BC, Canada
Makar is a skilled player but also dirty. He says that’s not his game, but yet this keeps happening. Manson is a thug.
You can see Gourde trying to stick up for the guys, which is admirable but the Kraken don’t really have a protector on this team. When things get tight, other teams are going to feel free to take cheap shots.
I’m disappointed to see the officiating so one-sided in this series. Guess the team will just have to battle through and send the Avs golfing.
The atmosphere was absolutely electric last night! The first period was such an impressive showing where they really shut down down the Avs and were just living in the offensive zone. Easily the most physical I’ve seen this team play, and glad I was there in person. The crowd was really feeding off of every hit into the boards, and I think I saw on the scoreboard that they set the franchise record for most hits in a game?
Losing McCann sucks and there’s nothing to say about that hit that hasn’t already been said. However, relying on a single player has never been this team’s MO, and I’m surprisingly confident that this one is going to 7 games. Lets go Kraken!