Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • November 30, 2021
Seattle Kraken Get A Rush Of Offensive Adrenaline In 5-1 Dropping Of Montreal

For a team with a blue-collar face, that was some high-flying white-collar finesse Tuesday night in the Pacific Northwest.

The Seattle Kraken gave fans something special to cheer about by dominating in all facets of the game to thwart the Montreal Canadiens 5-1.

It was the first victory at Climate Pledge Arena for the newest and 32nd NHL franchise, which improved its record in its first season to 2-4-1.

The Kraken did it with brilliant offensive creativity — something that had been sorely lacking previously — but also with mostly mistake-free team defense. To go along with that, Seattle won the lion’s share of the 50-50 battles and was constistently beating the Canadiens to the puck.

 

Yanni Gourde deked Montreal goalie Jake Allen to give Seattle a 3-1 lead.

Leave it to two-time Stanley Cup champion Yanni Gourde (formerly of the Tampa Bay Lighting) to lead the way in getting Seattle out of its offensive dormancy. And the bustling work of Brandon Tanev — which is equal parts heavy-duty hustle, physical will and clutch goal-scoring ability — also proved to be a catalyst Tuesday.

“We got off to a good start,” coach Dave Hakstol said in his postgame interview. “We built some momentum with the crowd behind us. We were able to complete a pretty good first period.”

Jordan Eberle, on a feed from Alex Wennberg, struck first in the game, just 1:02 in. That came just before the first loud shout of “Gruuuuuu” of the night for goalie Philipp Grubauer, who kicked out a leg to rob Brendan Gallagher.

Still, Montreal fought back to tie it 1-1 on Mike Hoffman’s rebound goal off of a Nick Suzuki shot with 8:23 to go in the first period.

Late in the opening period, Tanev scored the first of his two goals in the game to make it 2-1, as the recipient of bang-bang passes deep in the zone by Jared McCann and Jamie Oleksiak.

Seattle’s great offensive flow really picked up in the middle period. After a steal by Adam Larsson, Jeremy Lauzon passed to Jaden Schwartz to start a play that turned into what was easily the most breathtaking goal of the night, making it 3-1. Schwartz hit Gourde up the left boards and he flew in on a 2-on-1 with Calle Jarnkrok. Gourde patiently waited — as if he was going to make a pass — but when Montreal goalie Jake Allen overplayed the left side, Gourde pulled it in to the center and easily pushed the puck into an open net.

 

Brandon Tanev fires a backhand into the net (puck in motion) for the first of his two goals in the win.

Gourde was right back at it later in the period, when the Kraken took advantage of open ice due to a Canadiens line change to go up 4-1. Gourde, stationed at the Montreal blue line, slapped his stick on the ice, calling for the puck. His teammates didn’t disappoint. Grubauer passed to Mark Giordano, who sent it up to Gourde, and he softly fed Tanev flying in across the blue line untouched. All alone against Allen, Tanev stuffed a shot into the net, low on the short, blocker side.

“The difference tonight compared to a couple nights ago was the build on that lead,” Hakstol said. “Gourde’s goal and Tanev’s goal on transition allowed us to build that lead and get a little bit of breathing room. … When you score off of transition and score off the rush, those are huge positives.”

Against Vancouver on Saturday, the first home game in the team’s history, Seattle couldn’t hold a 2-1 third period lead.

Before the second period ended, the Kraken were fortunate to not get hurt on one of their few defensive mistakes, thanks to Gallagher shooting wide on a 2-on-0 break.

In the final period, Ryan Donato made a steal at the Seattle blue line and went in on a breakaway before tucking a backhand high into the net for the 5-1 final score.

Seattle outshot Montreal 26-24, with Grubauer making 23 saves.

“Big saves at the right time,” Hakstol said about Grubauer. “It’s not always about the volume. It’s about key saves at the right time. He did his job and he did it well.”

Hakstol used defenseman Haydn Fleury — who has missed a few games as a healthy scratch — as an example of what he’s looking for from his D-men.

“I thought he (Fleury) skated really well tonight,” the coach said. “The way he was moving with the puck and getting up ice, and most importantly, on our half of the red line, he played a pretty clean hockey game. That’s a real positive. That’s what we need out of our guys on the back end. You gotta defend well, get us out of the zone, and everything from there is a bonus.”

Yanni Gourde, after his artistic goal vs. Montreal.

Two more key stats:

>> The Kraken had 12 takeaways and Montreal had just two.
>> Seattle won the face-off battle (a rarity so far) 30-20

Coach Dave Hakstol Continues Trying To Find The Best Line Formations

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol continues to make changes to the lines. Tuesday’s forward setup was:

>> LW-Joonas Donskoi, C-Alex Wennberg, RW-Jordan Eberle
>> LW-Jaden Schwartz, C-Yanni Gourde, RW-Calle Jarnkrok
>> LW-Brandon Tanev, C-Jared McCann, RW-Mason Appelton
>> LW-Ryan Donato, C-Riley Sheahan, RW-Morgan Geekie

On defense, it was:

>> Mark Giordano and Jamie Oleksiak
>> Haydn Fleury and Vince Dunn
>> Jeremy Lauzon and Adam Larsson

Mason Appleton hurts leg

Right wing Mason Appleton hurt his right leg on hit by Sami Niku in the second period and missed the rest of the game. An update on his status is not available.

Raising the Stanley Cup banner in first year?

The Kraken paid homage to the Seattle Metropolitans by raising a 1917 Stanley Cup banner. The Metropolitans won the Cup that season over the Montreal Canadiens, one year before the NHL was formed.

The Seattle Kraken’s Brandon Tanev Works Like A Dog And Is Quickly Becoming A Fan Favorite

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