Ilya Mikheyev scored his first two goals as a Vancouver Canuck while Elias Pettersson and Andrei Kuzmenko each earned multi point games, neutralizing a pair of assists from Jordan Eberle as the Canucks defeated the Seattle Kraken, 5-4 at Climate Pledge Arena on Thursday.
The result left the Kraken, searching for their third win in four games, still winless in five lifetime tries against the Canucks, who were 0-5-2 with two weeks of disappointment and disarray logged with them. Head coach Bruce Boudreau earned his 600th career NHL victory.
And it left the Kraken only with a moral victory.
“We were the better team for most of the night, but they beat us on specialty teams by one,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That was the difference in the game. Five on five, you’re not going to be carrying momentum all night, but we carried momentum for a lot of the night.”
“Didn’t give up a lot of zone time, didn’t give up a lot defensively.”
The Canucks broke through the Kraken penalty kill for a 2-of-2 effort, while the Kraken went 1-of-4. After 20 minutes, the Kraken turned the game in their favor until Mikheyev’s goal tied the game, and changed the dynamic after a clean wrister that beat Martin Jones from the right circle.
“Maybe on that second one, a clear or a save, that one makes the difference.”
Jamie Oleksiak, Jared McCann, and Matty Beniers scored for the Kraken, managing a 3-3 tie until Pettersson found a soft spot at the front of the net, 1:16 into the third period to deflect a loose puck past Jones for a 4-3 lead.
Connor Garland seemingly ended the game in a realistic level with an empty netter with 1:25 left, but the Kraken had one last stand. Jaden Schwartz answered with a power play goal with 30 seconds left, and J.T. Miller got in the way of a prime scoring chance for Andre Burakovsky before time expired, blocking a shot but needed help getting off the ice at the final horn.
Thatcher Demko, opposing Jones, stopped 32 shots for the win for Vancouver.
1. SPECIAL TEAMS: As hinted above, the flow and – eventually – the end result of Thursday night was dictated by power play execution, and penalty killing to put out fires. The Kraken were letter perfect, three of the past four games on the PK. The only bump in the road: the loss at Chicago on Sunday when they gave up two power play goals. Vancouver, whose power play was 24th in the NHL on the road, stung the Kraken on back-to-back chances in the second and erased a 2-1 deficit. The Kraken broke through finally on Schwartz’s power play goal in the last desperate minute, but missed opportunities elsewhere including the third period, when Oliver Ekman-Larsson shot the puck over the glass, had a lingering effect.
2. GOT QUESTIONS? BENIERS WITH AN ANSWER: The Kraken are getting better at resisting lapses after scoring a goal and allowing one themselves. Apparent in the second period after Vancouver took the lead on an Andrei Kuzmenko power-play tap in and seized the game’s momentum, the Kraken stormed right back when Matty Beniers cruised into open ice, took Jaden Schwartz’s tape-to-tape feed, and beat Thatcher Demko on a break to tie the game. Momentum was restored, Beniers earned his seventh point in nine games, and along with his continued progress also fed the Kraken into situations showing capability of stabilizing important moments.
3. ENERGY EARLY, FLICKERING RESULTS: Almost nothing gets a building’s juices flowing like a good tussle. Thursday night had two of them early. Vancouver was ornery at the drop of the puck, willing to drop the gloves twice in the first 3:27 of the game and nearly had a third fight brewing five minutes into the game, involving Vince Dunn. Adam Larsson and Tanner Pearson dropped the gloves at 2:27 and then Carson Soucy did likewise with last year’s leading scorer, J.T. Miller, a minute later. It also got a go-to guy in Miller off the ice, but the Kraken were then lacking two defensemen until the fighting majors expired. Whatever energy lasted after that, was tempered when Ilya Mikheyev scored the game’s first goal at 4:38, and the Kraken missed an opportunity to build on momentum like Tuesday night, when they stormed the Sabres with two early goals and cruised to victory.
The Kraken will host the Pittsburgh Penguins, along with Sidney Crosby and the top offense in the NHL, on Saturday night at 7pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network).
KRAKEN LINEUP VS. VANCOUVER, 10/27:
Scratched: Wright, Donato, Fleury