They came off a three-game road trip, slaying giants from Calgary to Pittsburgh. Now home for six games in a row, the Seattle Kraken faced the dangers of an abrasive, physical, and confidence-building Nashville Predators team that roared back to beat Vancouver, and potentially falling flat in the opener of a six-game homesta------
(**** Loud screeching, record scratch noises****)
The Kraken (8-4-2, 18 points) threw all of those concerns out the window, quickly. Scoring four goals on their first six shots, they overwhelmed the Predators in the opening 20 minutes and eventually cruised to a 5-1 victory before a sellout crowd at Climate Pledge Arena on Tuesday, opening their season long homestand.
“We started the game well,” head coach Dave Hakstol.
“We picked up where we left off at home. We’ve played really well at home over the last stretch, and to have that start – it was a good start to the hockey game, it was an important start to the hockey game.”
Jordan Eberle scored on the first shot of the night, 38 seconds in, and the Kraken chased Juuse Saros after Eberle’s second goal of the game with 3:35 left in the frame.
“That was a little bit of a problem earlier in the year, we’ve been coming out sleepy, and we’ve been talking about it, coming out hot,” forward Andre Burakovsky said. “That sets the tone in the games, for sure.”
Burakovsky, leading the Kraken with 13 points in 14 games, enjoyed a season high three point game, accomplished in the first 15 minutes after the opening face-off. An unsung hero – Justin Schultz – collected the team’s customary Davy Jones victory hat after blocking four shots and forced to rotate through new defensive pairings (Adam Larsson, Carson Soucy, Will Borgen) after his full-time partner Jamie Oleksiak left the game after the second period and did not return.
Hakstol said no update on Oleksiak would be available until Wednesday or Thursday. The Kraken have Wednesday off and will resume skating on Thursday at Kraken Community Iceplex.
Not to be lost in all of this, Martin Jones had another solid outing with 24 saves. Since the Kraken embarked on a run that’s now 6-1 since October 25, Jones is tied for fifth in NHL save percentage with a .940 clip, and further evident, stopping more shots that typically go in.
Filip Forsberg scored on a second period breakaway for Nashville’s only goal while Kevin Lankinen, relieving Saros, stopped 13 shots aside from a Brandon Tanev late third period empty netter which sealed the game.
1. GOOD STARTS: It plagued the Kraken last year, often times allowing a sleepy opening to a game to lead into an early first period goal or small to sizeable deficit, forcing them to chase the rest of the game. Those often ended in losses, 5-29-1 the record when they trailed after 20 minutes. Avoiding the hazard of coming out flat to open a six-game homestand, the Kraken pounced on several Nashville mistakes in the defensive zone and a sluggish Juuse Saros, lifted after allowing four goals on six shots. Climate Pledge Arena’s energy was surging in the opening minutes, and despite a subtle push by Nashville with Forsberg’s breakaway goal and extended offensive zone time, the Kraken never looked back after period one.
2. STILL KILLING IT: What was problematic in the first few games, continues to turn the corner. This game wasn’t heavily penalized, but the Kraken penalty kill delivered yet another clean sheet, limiting Nashville to an 0-of-2 clip on the power play while playing at a completely sterile pace in the third period, without taking a penalty. In what could have been a couple of turning points for the Predators turned into a continuing pace of Kraken dominance for the game. Seattle’s penalty kill has now wiped away the last 13 straight chances, rising from 30th in the league on Oct. 29 to now 24th. Tuesday marked the first time in franchise history the Kraken have not allowed a power play goal in five straight games.
3. BURAKOVSKY LEADING THE CHARGE: The free agency signing of forward Andre Burakovsky continues to pay immediate dividends, further providing evidence his production behind a loaded Colorado lineup was due to hit next level with more opportunities. He leads the Kraken in scoring with 13 points in 14 games, but this is far from Andre Burakovsky and the backup singers on stage (the Kraken generated production from three lines last night). The Kraken entered the week with goals from 19 different players, the most depth in the NHL, have 11 players with eight points or more, and possess the league’s seventh most potent offense at 3.5 goals per game, tied with the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Kraken continue their homestand on Friday, hosting the Minnesota Wild at 7pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network).