Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • November 30, 2021
Vancouver’s Late Offensive Flurry Spoils The Seattle Kraken’s Historic First Home Game, 4-2

A one-goal lead can be the hardest thing to preserve in the intense world of the NHL.

And the newest NHL team, the Seattle Kraken, got a taste of that experience in their first home game in history on Saturday night.

The Kraken grabbed a one-goal edge with 14 minutes, 50 seconds left, but couldn’t hold it for what would have been a fine victorious christening of Climate Pledge Arena and a gigantic eruption by the legion of fans from the Pacific Northwest who have already devoted themselves to their long-awaited brand-new team. Instead, the Vancouver Canucks got the equalizer and the go-ahead goals within 3:06 of each other and then, with Seattle goalie Philipp Grubauer pulled, added an empty-netter late for the 4-2 victory.

 

The puck is two inches from the goal line after a shot by Seattle’s Mason Appleton, left. But Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko reached back to push it away wtih his glove.

That leaves Seattle with just one win in six games to start the season, including four regular-time losses and one overtime loss. Sounds bad. But on the positive side of things, five of the games, including the win, were decided by either one goal or, in two instances, one goal AND an empty-netter with the goalie pulled.

As a testament to their unyielding work ethic, the Kraken are always it right until the end. But, of course, you throw out that one painful blemish — a 6-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

And the 32nd NHL franchise was in it until the end again Saturday.

“It was probably our best 60 (minutes) of the year,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after the game. “Pretty even first period. I thought we were able to tilt the ice in the second period, which is what you want to be able to do. In the third period, we got that lead and we had two or three great chances to extend it and couldn’t do that. I like the way we played in the third.”

A beautiful third-period goal by defenseman and captain Mark Giordano gave Seattle a 2-1 edge. Alex Wennberg was the one who made it possible with a steal near the Canucks’ blue line before passing it to Jared McCann, who in turn gave it to Giordano for his high wrist shot goal.

Defenseman and captain Mark Giordano gave Seattle a temporary 2-1 lead in the third period.

A bit later, with Carson Soucy in the box for tripping, Vancouver went on the power play and knotted it 2-2 with 7:26 to go when Bo Horvat knocked in the rebound of a J.T. Miller shot.

A misplay by the Kraken’s Vince Dunn at the offensive blue line led to what turned to to be the Canucks’ winning goal. Conor Garland collected the puck, streaked in from the right side and put a shot in the 5-hole past Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer with just 4:02 to go.

“Obviously, a penalty at a tough time against a good power play hurt us,” Hakstol said. “And then the one bounce of the game (Dunn’s misplay) went their way on the game-winner.”

Then, Justin Dowling’s empty-netter made it 4-2 with 0:39 left.

Earlier, Dunn scored Seattle’s first home goal in history with a high wrist shot on a pass from Adam Larsson with just 3.2 seconds left in the first period.

In the middle period, when the Kraken had a pile of trouble clearing the puck out of their zone, Vancouver pounced to make it 1-1. Garland made it happen by intercepting a Giordano pass off the right boards and feeding Horvat, who put it into the goal from the low slot.

 

Seattle’s Nathan Bastian tried, but could not get the puck past Thatcher Demko.

Before the close of the second period, Seattle’s Mason Appelton nearly scored on a breakaway, putting a shot past Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko, but the puck stopped two inches short of the goal line and Demko cleared it away with his glove.

Grubauer made 22 saves, including many testers in his fifth start of the season. Demko turned aside 29 Seattle shots.

Forward lines and defensive pairings:

For most of the home opener, Hakstol‘s four lines were:

>> LW Jaden Schwartz, C Yanni Gourde, RW Calle Jarnkrok
>> LW Alex Wennberg, C Jared McCann, RW Jordan Eberle
>> LW Joonas Donskoi, C Morgan Geekie, RW Brandon Tanev
>> LW Mason Appleton, C, Riley Sheahan, RW Nathan Bastian

And the defensive pairings were:

>> Mark Giordano and Jamie Oleksiak
>> Carson Soucy and Vince Dunn
>> Jeremy Lauzon and Adam Larsson

Jarnkrok was in the lineup for the first time after returning from COVID-19 protocol. Gourde was playing in only his second game, back from a shoulder injury.

The defensive pairings may have been the best setup of  blueliners so far this season by Hakstol.

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MORE SEATTLE KRAKEN CONTENT: The Seattle Kraken’s Brandon Tanev Works Like A Dog And Is Quickly Becoming A Fan Favorite
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