Several hours before puck drop on Thursday, a blunt update was offered on the psychological status of the Seattle Kraken leadership and dressing room.
“Guys’ give-a-(expletive) meter is high,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol.
The needle nearly broke in the right direction between the hours of 7:00pm to 10:00pm, when the Kraken unloaded on the Philadelphia Flyers with five unanswered goals, a three-point night from Yanni Gourde, and a season series sweep to rout the Flyers, 6-2 before 17,151 fans on Thursday night at Climate Pledge Arena.
Jared McCann greeted Carter Hart with a shorthanded goal, high on the glove side, on Seattle’s first shot of the game with 3:01 gone by, and Justin Schultz’s point shot deflected off a Yanni Gourde screen at the net for a 2-0 lead with 5:21 left.
“Schultzy’s got a bomb and we’ve got to utilize that and take the goalie’s eyes away as much as we can,” said Gourde.
COMPLETE RADIO GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Schultz hammered a power play goal by Hart from the blueline then Oliver Bjorkstrand ended Hart’s night with a breakaway goal, chasing the former Everett Silvertips legend from the net at 11:26. Hart, playing in his first game back in the Puget Sound region since joining the NHL, surrendered four goals on 19 shots.
It was a far cry from Hart’s strong season, but also one of many ingredients that left the Flyers and their head coach, John Tortorella, in a storm of frustration after the game.
“It doesn’t me any good to tell you what’s going on in the room,” said Tortorella to reporters after the game.
Backup Samuel Ersson wasn’t treated much differently than Hart by the Kraken. Gourde, who ended with a three point game and first star effort, smashed a one-timer on the first shot Ersson faced with 5:17 left.
With the game already academic, Travis Konecny ended a 13-game goal drought for the Flyers with a two-goal third period. Matty Beniers snapped out of a 10-game goal drought and added an assist, finishing the scoring on the Kraken side with a third period blast from the left circle while off the rush.
“I thought we played faster than the last few games on the road,” said Gourde. “I thought we were checking a little bit better, even in the neutral zone.”
The Kraken, who jumped the Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific Division, will next take on a red hot Detroit Red Wings squad, who have won five in a row, at 7:30pm PT on Saturday at Climate Pledge Arena.
1. Everyone contributes, everybody ropes, everybody rides. On a night where the Kraken got nine players on the board with a goal or assist (hey there, a familiar theme), the “sum of the parts” machine was rolling. Yanni Gourde broke out of a 13-game goal drought. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored the knockout goal against Hart. Justin Schultz funneled two goals from his point shot, one that hit Gourde on the way. Matty Beniers dug up his offensive game. Philipp Grubauer flirted with a shutout through 40 minutes.
The Kraken didn’t allow a single shot on net for the first 13 minutes of the game.
Then there’s Will Borgen, called out by Gourde as the “best player” on the ice. He didn’t collect a single point but drew attention for his foundational ability to manage and move the puck. It helped too, that he blocked five shots. The power play scored twice (four goals in the last four games). The penalty kill earned their third shorthanded goal of the season. The Flyers last stood a chance at the national anthem, in a win where the Kraken removed any doubt, swiftly, on how ready they would be coming off a 1-3-1 road trip.
2. Matty Beniers needed a game like this in the worst kind of way. Ten games into a scoring drought develops a buffet of questions, ranging from the effects of a hit by Tyler Myers last month that knocked him out of two games plus the All-Star Game, to the grind of an NHL schedule catching up to the condition of a 20-year old rookie. It’s not easy. Beniers has found different ways to be effective, like in Sunday’s win at Philadelphia where he blocked a shot in the final seconds to preserve a one-goal win. This time, he chewed up a vulnerable Flyers team with a multi-point game, and punctuated the win with a blast from the left wing on Samuel Ersson to move within two goals of the 20-goal plateau. The goal wasn’t cheap, and perhaps a shot of confidence to fuel another run of production in a time of year where the Kraken will need every bit of him.
3. Complicated emotions were in the building last night. Have you experienced a major junior game with a bear on the front of a green jersey with “HART” and “70” on the back? There were a ton that cruised by the KJR set. Were you also inside Climate Pledge Arena last night or tuned into the broadcast? If yes on both, chances are you watched this game with an extremely wild set of complicated emotions. Carter Hart, who blossomed into an all-time great in Everett Silvertips and Pacific Northwest major junior hockey history, returned to the area for his first game since he left Everett for the NHL five years ago (COVID knocked him out of last year’s Flyers visit). For the euphoria of a Kraken win, a sample of fan reaction indicated a tinge of empathy for a visitor as well. When you watch a goaltender win two CHL Goaltender of the Year awards in Silvertips colors, four goals on 19 shots on a night that ended after 31 minutes isn’t a night that many fans in both camps had in mind. The Kraken attacked the Flyers from the start, and eliminated Hart from making an impact.
Ultimately, the sight of Hart on NHL ice in Seattle, like Mat Barzal in Islanders colors, is another reminder of visiting NHL teams that bring back the local “greatest hits”,” exemplifying the encouraging growth of hockey in this region.
KRAKEN LINEUP VS PHILADELPHIA, 2/16: