Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Philipp Grubauer turned in 20 saves for his first win of the season on his 31stbirthday, helping the Seattle Kraken secure a 4-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights before a crowd of 18,119 at T-Mobile Arena on Friday.
The Kraken stayed hot. They are 9-1-1 in the last 11 games, maintaining their grip on second place in the Pacific Division while inching to six points back of the Golden Knights for the division lead with two games in hand.
Voila, another statement made. But the statement coming out of the Kraken dressing room, is statements like these are intended to become the norm. Not the exception.
“We’re not looking for a measuring stick,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “Important two points on the road, we beat a good team tonight.”
Just as important, another statement made: Grubauer is back.
“Besides my dog, it’s the best birthday gift I ever got,” said Grubauer. “Two points.”
Ryan Donato and Andre Burakovsky opened the scoring with a rapid 2-0 lead just eight minutes into the game. Vegas responded with back-to-back goals from Nicolas Roy (power play) and Phil Kessel to tie it before the intermission.
That would be all the Kraken would hear from Vegas. Grubauer shut the door the rest of the way. Burakovsky’s right circle snipe gave the Kraken the lead, for good, 5:20 into the second period, and Jordan Eberle followed up with a filthy dangle through the Vegas defense and parked a rebound, stick side on Adin Hill for a 4-2 lead with 1:14 left in the second period.
“The guys have been playing unbelievable,” Grubauer said. “They made it easy for me tonight. Once you make a couple saves, everything is settling in for a bit. It was amazing to watch back there.”
The Kraken will battle the Anaheim Ducks next, 5pm (93.3. KJR / Kraken Audio Network) on Sunday.
1. The birthday boy gets his wish: Philipp Grubauer was ready for this moment. You could tell how special it was, comparing the value of it to getting his dog. He was prepared for a new beginning this season. Then he went on the shelf for a month. He then saw Martin Jones, who wasn’t even here a year ago, seize the attention, spotlight, and nearly the entire starting workload with an incredible month-long stretch. Grubauer responded by keeping Vegas at bay in the final 40 minutes. While he wasn’t being asked to make a ten-bell save each minute, he was solid all night to seal up one of the biggest victories of the year. Considering what Jones has delivered, and what Grubauer showed he’s capable of, just imagine the Kraken with routine goaltending like this. It’s appetizing for the Puget Sound, and terrifying for the rest of the NHL.
2. The defense knows Jack: The Kraken defense deserves a ton of credit for keeping Vegas’ top line silent: Jack Eichel in the middle, with Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone on the wings. A revived Eichel led the Golden Knights in scoring. Stone was on a five-game goal scoring heater. Stephenson is on pace for a career year for points. They got absolutely nothing. As a unit of five, the Kraken collectively kept the line and threat in check: a combined zero goals, zero assists, and two shots on goal.
3. Right on track: They just keep facing test after test, and they just keep passing them. The first victory in franchise history over the Vegas Golden Knights did more than just simply complete a short-term “sugar rush” of bragging rights for one night over a Pacific Division rival, that had been a menacing presence for five games. The Kraken took another step further, unleashing the best start by a second year team since the expansion boom of the 1990’s. No other team at the “quarter pole” was above .500. The Kraken, with one game left until that mark, are 12-5-3. Only one other team since that expansion boom has made the playoffs in season two:
You guessed it, Vegas.
KRAKEN LINEUP, 11/25: