Logan Thompson earned 22 saves for his first career NHL shutout as the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Seattle Kraken, 3-0 before a sellout crowd of 17,151 on Wednesday at Climate Pledge Arena.
The loss eliminated the Kraken from postseason contention with 15 games left in the season. Jonathan Marchessault delivered a multi-point game and Shea Theodore, playing in Seattle for the first time in seven years since skating as a member of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, earned the eventual game winner on a breakaway at 7:38 of the second period.
Chris Driedger, who helped maintain a scoreless tie for the first half of the game, took the loss with 27 stops.
“We didn’t generate much especially the second half of the game,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “The second period is the difference in his hockey game.”
“The big difference in a second period against a good team, we didn’t take care of the puck. So turnovers lead to transition offense. It led to (offensive zone) time for them.”
The Kraken started out strong, outshooting Vegas 4-0 in the first eight minutes of the game while tilting ice in the direction of Thompson. However, Vegas regained momentum after a pair of Kraken penalties in the first ten minutes, around a fight between Jamie Oleksiak and Keegan Kolesar.
“It would have been nice to get one early, but that’s not always the case,” said Hakstol. “I liked our first period – we didn’t transition that into a full second period.”
Driedger’s effort came on an attempted follow up effort from his victory in Los Angeles, and made a dazzling breakaway, stick side save on William Karlsson shortly before another turnover, with Theodore out of the box, delivered a 1-0 lead for Vegas.
“Dreegs did a good job,” said Hakstol. “He fought through some traffic and the second one had eyes and found its way on a second attempt.”
Though the playoffs are officially out of reach, there is still a path of 15 games to make headway for next season with those under long-term commitments. Driedger, who is in the first year of a three-year contract, said he has begun to work with a sports psychologist, designed to adjust his pre-game and preparation routines.
“I’ve been talking to a mental coach for the last couple weeks,” said Driedger. “Back to basics and talk about some strategy on how I’m thinking.”
“Moderating your stress level, breathing, stuff like that. I feel calm, and feel like myself.”
Michael Amadio cleaned up a loose puck at the net, at 7:03 of the third period for a 2-0 cushion. The Kraken pulled Driedger for an extra attacker and appeared to squeeze the deficit to a goal with over two minutes left, when Jordan Eberle finished a rebound at the net. The goal was called back after an offside challenge.
Marchessault finished an empty netter with 27 seconds left.
The two teams will face a rematch on Friday, 7pm PT at Climate Pledge Arena.