Through six rounds, neither goaltender would blink.
Then it was a silky smooth backhander that caught everyone’s eye by Marcus Johansson to put it away.
Johansson’s shootout goal in the seventh round finished a resilient effort by the Seattle Kraken, surviving a late third period rally by the Montreal Canadiens to sweep the two game season series and win, 4-3 in a shootout before a near-capacity crowd of 20,608 at Bell Centre on Saturday night.
The Kraken salvaged the end of their five game road trip with a win, breaking an 0-3-1 stretch where they led or were tied in the third period over the last four games. The penalty kill, previously going through a bumpy stretch allowing eight power play goals in 14 chances, locked up Montreal’s power play and kept the Canadiens scoreless on six opportunities.
“Good way for us to finish out the road trip,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “Tough to give up the lead, but I didn’t dislike the way we played in the third. They played well and had a good push, but I felt like we didn’t have any panic to our game.”
Philipp Grubauer, winless in his last nine appearances, made 30 stops to earn the win in net. He stopped all seven Montreal shooters in the shootout.
“We didn’t want to go home without a win,” said Grubauer. “It was a hard earned win for sure. In the last period we made it way too interesting, but we found a way to win it, get two points out of it, now we get to go home and take the momentum in how we played first two periods in our building.”
Grubauer set up Johansson’s winner with a stop on Michael Pezzetta, then simply kept his head down as Johansson stepped onto the ice, to peacefully insulate himself.
“I wasn’t even watching,” said Grubauer, smiling while recalling the moment. “I was like, ‘just put it in the net’. I didn’t even know what he did.”
What Johansson did: permanently stifle a loud and boisterous crowd intended to deliver wave after wave of energy, trademark on Montreal home ice, in the Canadiens’ first game since December with full capacity allowed and COVID seating restrictions lifted.
“Great atmosphere,” said Hakstol. “I thought both teams were pretty excited to play in this atmosphere. The electricity in the crowd has an effect, equally for both sides.”
Quebec native Yanni Gourde, awarded first star of the game, put the Kraken up on an errant bounce off Chris Wideman for a shorthanded goal – the third in the last ten days for the Kraken – for a 1-0 lead at 9:26 of the first period.
Mason Appleton nearly shocked the Montreal crowd with another shorthanded snipe seconds later, an overturned goal following Montreal’s coach’s challenge for offsides.
Pezzetta’s fifth goal of the season tied the game with 5:10 left, and Ryan Donato slammed in his 13th goal of the season for a 2-1 lead with 3:18 left in the period.
Jared McCann fired a laser past Sam Montembeault for a power play goal and his team-leading 23rd goal of the season for a 3-1 lead with 4:55 left in the second, but Montreal stormed back with back-to-back goals in the third period on Alex Romanov’s blast through traffic at 1:04 then a bounce by Nick Suzuki that deflected off Adam Larsson to tie the game with just 2:12 left.
Grubauer set up the shootout by robbing Ben Chiarot on a wide open look with a glove save early in overtime.
“Step in the right direction,” said McCann. “But we need to string some wins together.”
The Kraken return home Wednesday to salute Mark Giordano’s 1,000th game at 7:00pm PT against the Tampa Bay Lightning, followed by a Saturday, Dec. 19 matchup against the Detroit Red Wings at Climate Pledge Arena.