Tolvanen's smashing debut in smashing win over Islanders (AUDIO)

Calgary Flames v Seattle Kraken

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New Year, new result. 

The Seattle Kraken effectively took the infant hours of 2023 and put on a show like an act of collectively turning the page, flushing away a three-game winless skid by using newcomer Eeli Tolvanen’s second period goal as an eventual game winner to beat the New York Islanders, 4-1 before a sellout crowd on New Year’s Day at Climate Pledge Arena. 

“We got back to it tonight,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “From the start, we were ready to check. Our special teams did a good job, our goaltender made a couple big saves.” 


Tolvanen waited a long time for this moment. Claimed off waivers December 12, it took nearly three weeks of waiting to pierce the lineup. On a second period power play, he used his trademark shot, uncorking a bazooka-like one-timer from the right circle on his first attempt with the Kraken to beat Ilya Sorokin, clean from the right circle. 

“The power play goal – you can’t teach,” said Hakstol. “That’s an ability he has. That was heavy. He got all of it, and he beat a good goaltender on that play.” 

Martin Jones made 18 saves in net for the Kraken, improving to 15-5-3 and into a seventh place tie for most wins in the NHL this season. 

Adam Larsson completed a solid first ten minutes of the game by the Kraken with a 1-0 lead and former Seattle Thunderbird Mat Barzal, skating in his 400th NHL game, buried his 100th career NHL goal by getting behind the Kraken defense to tie the game by the end of the first period.

Tolvanen gave the Kraken the lead for good, while Oliver Bjorkstrand followed by dunking a rebound from the left circle on Sorokin with 6:56 left in the second period. Brandon Tanev buried an empty netter with 35 seconds left in the game as the Kraken improved to 2-1 all-time against the Islanders. 

Up next: a seven-game road trip, starting Tuesday, 6pm PT at Edmonton (93.3 KJR-FM / Kraken Audio Network). 


1.     The Kraken set the tone when it mattered most. Like the first few minutes that sent Friday night off the tracks in a 7-2 loss to Edmonton, the first ten minutes set the tone for a solid victory on Sunday night, befitting of an effort that will keep the Kraken in playoff contention. They spent considerable time in the offensive zone, they were clean through the neutral zone with movement, and kept the Islanders off the board with a “zero” in the shots on goal column for the first few minutes. Martin Jones won a hard game – where he went through spurts of not seeing a single shot. But he stayed dialed in, making timely saves including an early third period stop on Brock Nelson. The winning habits came back to form, just in time for the seven-game road trip. 

2.     Eeli Tolvanen is in the lineup for the long haul with games like Sunday. Amidst a shake in the lineup, Tolvanen started the game on a line with Yanni Gourde, flanked on the other side with Oliver Bjorkstrand. Gourde’s line demands high octane skating, and on Sunday night, they proved to be effective. Tolvanen’s goal was off a power play look, but the entire line played into a goal by Bjorkstrand, who the Kraken would love to get cranking offensively, coming off 28 goals last year. Tolvanen laid his body in the way of three blocked shots and a pair of hits, events that earn high praise for players who stay in the lineup. 

3.     Special teams, welcome back. The power play showcased a new look with Eeli Tolvanen on the right side, where his one-timer was well suited to feed off passing lanes. Let’s just say in the second period, it feasted. Tolvanen’s goal broke an 0-of-16 drought, part of a rough December where the Kraken had just two power play goals. They nearly had a second goal in the second period that required a ten-bell, right pad save by Sorokin to stop Bjorkstrand at the left post. The penalty kill had their first clean sheet, two-of-two, in six games and enjoyed an extremely tidy workload in the first period with the game still very much up for grabs. The Kraken special teams struggled in December, as did the win-loss total (4-7-1). In November, the power play cranked a 25% rate, when the Kraken went 10-1-1. If this is a sign that special teams are trending upward, it’s extremely promising with a seven-game road trip that lies ahead, followed by the next home game with the Tampa Bay Lightning. 




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