Five months took the Seattle Kraken and fans through an adventurous ride throughout the summer. Free agency, the trade market, and a stroke of fortune at the draft delivered upgrades designed for short term gains for the offense, and long-term gains for the future.
Many ingredients were visibly evident on Wednesday for promise through two periods. The third period was a lesson in the finish line.
Frankie Vatrano and Trevor Zegras rescued the Anaheim Ducks from a two-goal deficit in the third period, and Troy Terry’s breakaway 55 seconds in lifted the Ducks to an overtime finish, 5-4 over the Kraken before 17,530 fans at Honda Center in the regular season opener.
Perhaps frustrating in the matter of the result, the Kraken outshot the Ducks 48-27.
“We come away with a point, but we liked the position we were in, especially going up 4-2 and in a position to lock it down,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “When you’re in those situations, we didn’t give up a lot.”
“But little things make a big difference – line changes that can put you in the soup a little bit.”
The additions from the summer immediately paid off to get the Kraken in the driver’s seat and eventually, extract a standings point despite the overtime loss. The upgraded power play went 3-for-5, with both newcomers Andre Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand each scoring in the second period.
Matty Beniers, coming off a nine point and ten game campaign, picked up where he left off with a goal and assist.
“We moved it quick (on the power play), and we’ve been practicing a lot,” said Beniers. “Like I’ve said earlier, we’ve been building chemistry and building a lot of reps. It’s nice to see the results.”
Unfortunately for the Kraken, Troy Terry also picked up where he left off. Last year’s Ducks leading scorer, who also had five points in three games against the Kraken, converted off a defensive zone breakdown between the circles for a 1-0 lead just 51 seconds into the game.
A squandered two-man advantage still yielded time for a Jared McCann snipe at 10:13 of the first, and Burakovsky scored from a similar spot in the second period followed by Bjorkstrand’s rip from the slot at 6:28.
“Good chemistry on the power play to score three goals,” said Bjorkstrand. “That’s a positive, but there are other areas we might want to tighten up a little bit in this game.”
Ryan Strome cut the deficit to 3-2 with 1:36 left on a power play goal in the second period, but Beniers’ rebound restored the two-goal lead at 4:09 of the third period.
Vatrano went nearly bar down on Philipp Grubauer at 9:56 of the third period and Trevor Zegras’ one-timer tied the game with 6:37 left in regulation. The Kraken were close on a power play with four minutes left but failed to convert.
John Gibson, seconds off a point blank save on Adam Larsson, threaded a pass up ice to Terry who buried a backhander to end the game.
Gibson labored with a 44 save effort for the win, while Grubauer allowed five goals on 27 shots.
“We’ve got to figure out how to close out those games,” said Beniers.
“We played well, we played hard,” said Hakstol. “We played fast in a lot of areas. It hurts when you make a couple of mistakes and they come back to get you. We’ve got to clean those up.”
The Kraken will finish back-to-back games on Thursday night, 7:30pm against the Los Angeles Kings.