The Seattle Kraken definitely have a lot to be thankful for.
There are some nights where the final result is neat, tidy, and perfectly layered and in harmony with offensive execution and defensive responsibility. Then, other nights just let chaos reign supreme.
They’ve answered both challenges.
Wednesday night, the latter opened up an eruption of a combined 13 goals, most in Kraken single-game history, who also set a new sixty minute benchmark for most in one game to swallow up the San Jose Sharks in an 8-5 victory before a Thanksgiving Eve sellout crowd on Wednesday at Climate Pledge Arena.
“Sometimes there’s nights like this,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “It kind of had that feel right from the go. Just one of those nights where there was a lot happening.”
“You’ve got to win game in all different ways. It’s not the way you draw it up, but it’s still a win and you have to find ways to win hockey games.”
Matty Beniers added another layer to his multi-dimensional case for the Calder Trophy hunt, ripping off his first career three point game and a +4 effort with a first star effort. Beniers leads all league rookies in scoring entering the holiday with 14 points in 19 games.
“Fun game to play in,” said Beniers.
“I think we’re really good offensively and you saw that tonight. But tonight, we beared down and put our chances away.”
Jaden Schwartz scored twice, helping erupt the game from a 4-4 tie in the third period while Andre Burakovsky earned a three-point effort. On the blueline, Jamie Olekisiak scored in his return from injury while Vince Dunn showcased an all-around effort with a two-point night, +5 rating, and a team-leading four hits. Oliver Bjorkstrand busted a head-scratching 17-game goal scoring drought, putting the Kraken ahead for good with a backhander, top shelf on Kaapo Kahkonen, in the third period.
“He scored that goal, we all went nuts – you saw the bench,” said Beniers. “He’s so deserving of it.”
Even more important: the Kraken took another massive step forward in their early-season push, finishing 4-1-1 in a season-long six-game homestand, and seized sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division. They are 11-5-3 (25 points) with the third best record in the conference at the Thanksgiving pause.
“I looked at our goaltender and he didn’t have a bad goal,” said Hakstol. “He had some huge saves.”
Martin Jones beat his former team with a 21-save effort, and while the Sharks managed five goals including a variety of deflections and backdoor plays, he saved his biggest effort of the night late in the third period with a throwback, windmill kick save with over four minutes left on Matt Nieto.
The Kraken now face another stern test to open up a three-game trip: the Pacific Division leading Vegas Golden Knights, who have never lost in the head-to-head series, on Friday at 5pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network).
1. Matty Beniers making more noise: Well, he’s back. We all knew there would be ups and downs with a long 82-game season, something Beniers wasn’t accustomed to at playing in a shorter schedule at Michigan. He has answered the brief six-game point drought with five points over the last two games, and a +5 rating. In a game that was loose, Beniers ran wild. His highlight reel, pinpoint pass to Vince Dunn at the front of the net tied the game at 5:52, and his electrifying sixth goal of the season off the rush effectively put the final dagger into the Sharks. He delivered another answer in a season that has asked questions on his next level of play. The answers, in a Calder Trophy case-building campaign, have come in frequent and emphatic fashion.
2. Oliver Bjorkstrand: It was a matter of time. For the goal that Bjorkstrand scored, a sold out barn – and Kraken bench – deservedly came off the hinges. The Kraken seized the lead for good in a chaotic and at times unpredictable night, while Bjorkstrand broke free of the shackles of a 17-game goal scoring drought that was uncharacteristic of his level of play, including a 28-goal season last year, and now ranking third on the team with a 54.8 Corsi percentage (measuring shot attempts). Goal scorers tend to be streaky. If one goes in, expect the levee to break. This was one that Bjorkstrand needed, and it came at the perfect time.
3. Winning different ways: The Kraken can beat you 3-2. They can beat you 8-5. Lock it down, or open the floodgates: they’re not at a disadvantage. When the game of trading chances began, the Kraken were game to oblige with all four lines. It was a master class in “everybody ropes, everybody rides.” Alex Wennberg’s line combined for five points. Beniers’ line: five points. Yanni Gourde’s line: three points. Morgan Geekie’s line: three points. It’s the symbol of a team that showcased its offensive strength and continued to sock opponents in the six-game homestand for an average of 3.5 goals per game, a tick above their season-long average, 3.4 per game, and eighth best in the NHL.
KRAKEN LINEUP, 11/23: