At approximately 6:29pm at Climate Pledge Arena, new mascot Buoy dropped from the rafters at Climate Pledge Arena.
Nearly two and a half hours later, the Seattle Kraken dropped the Vancouver Canucks.
Nearly following the same script as the previous two home games, the Kraken emerged from a scoreless first period with an early second period goal and turned on the jets in the final 20 minutes, cruising to a 4-0 victory on Saturday night before 17,151 fans at Climate Pledge Arena.
Matty Beniers, looking every bit the part of a young weapon ready to seize his first full NHL season by storm, scored again in his second pre-season game while Yanni Gourde and Alex Wennberg each bagged three-point efforts. Philipp Grubauer, with just 17 shots he needed to stop, had no problems stopping them all for a shutout as he went the distance.
“It’s early, they’ve had a couple practices together, but nice as a group together – it fuels you if you can have some success offensively,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol on the Wennberg line, paired with Gourde and Oliver Bjorkstrand.
“There’s so much positive to go with it, those guys should feel good about their night and how they played together.”
The Kraken are a perfect 4-0 in pre-season. Only one team has played more games and remained unbeaten: the St. Louis Blues. They stifled the Canucks with an 11-4 shots advantage in the first period, became a little busier defending their zone in the second period, then nearly tightened all the screws in the third period with an 11-1 shots advantage in the third period.
Following a scoreless first period and a Morgan Geekie shot that rang the post in the second, Beniers followed through with a snipe on Thatcher Demko to break open the scoring at 6:42 of the second period.
What followed early in the third period was an indication of the potential Oliver Bjorkstrand has on the Kraken offensive fortunes. With a battle being forged along the wall with Yanni Gourde and a pair of Canucks defenders, Bjorkstrand feathered a chef’s kiss pass to the tape of former Columbus teammate Alex Wennberg, who slammed home a 2-0 lead just 58 seconds into the second period.
“Felt good,” said Bjorkstrand. “For me, Wennie’s familiar, I know how he plays. It’s natural. With Gordie, he plays hard and is always on the puck.”
“Gordie’s great to have out there, he’s working hard,” said Wennberg. “He’s skilled with the puck.”
Yanni Gourde finished a breakaway after a steal near the Kraken blueline at 7:15 for a 3-0 lead and then finished any remaining hope for the Canucks with an empty netter with 2:45 left.
“You see on the breakaway, he’s got silky mitts right there,” said Wennberg.
“We have two games to go, but I’d love to start the games right now.”
Grubauer, appearing in two preseason games, has stopped all 27 shots he’s seen.
It was a piece of the entire puzzle the Kraken feel they are still assembling, even with a perfect pre-season record.
“We’ve got work to do,” said Hakstol. “We’re positive with a lot of the things we’ve been doing.”
“We’ve got some competition. We’ve got some difficult decisions to make.”