Jordan Eberle scored twice and added an assist while Philipp Grubauer was sharp again with 21 saves, enough for the Seattle Kraken to knock out the Detroit Red Wings in a 4-2 victory on Saturday before 17,151 fans at Climate Pledge Arena.
“I was happy with the effort,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol.
“Grubie was good, we got through it, and we had the benefit of the lead we built in the first 50 (minutes).”
The Kraken needed the win to keep pace in the Pacific Division, two points back of Vegas for first place, and a point back of the Kings, who both won Saturday night. The Kraken are 3-0-1 in the last four games.
Eberle scored the first two Kraken goals on a night that had extra juice with fathers of the players along with close family and friends in town (for a special "Dads and Mentors" trip), bookending a freak late first period goal by Pius Suter to notch a 2-1 lead. That was momentarily in danger when Vince Dunn was called for high sticking to give the Red Wings a double minor power play. Very swiftly, momentum changed when Detroit’s David Perron was whistled for a holding the stick penalty six seconds later, and Jamie Oleksiak banged in his sixth goal of the season for a 3-1 lead, set up by Beniers with six seconds to play in the period.
“The four-on-four goal at the end of the second turned out to be a momentum swing in our favor,” said Hakstol.
Eeli Tolanven effectively put the game on ice with his 10th goal in 22 games with the Kraken (12th overall) at 4:49 on a rebound at the net. Dylan Larkin scored from the right circle to cut the deficit to 4-2 on an extra attacker goal with 2:41 left, but the Wings got no closer.
Ville Husso took the loss on 22 saves.
1. Another game, another strong outing from Grubauer. This wasn’t a game where the Kraken needed Grubauer to be at his best, or to steal a game. Matter of fact, they actually went above the bar that’s been set for goal support linked to Grubauer’s starts at one point as low as two goals per game. He’s started the last four games, and the Kraken have scored 16 goals in that span (3-0-1 record). Dave Hakstol once agreed to a notion that a difference in goal support could be just attributed to “dumb luck.”
In this case, the Kraken are turning it around for Grubauer (father Han-Peter in town), but make no mistake – he’s pulling a ton of weight. Since New Year’s Day, Grubauer’s save percentage stands at .926, with the Kraken hauling a record of 13-6-2 since then. The third period was when he was at his best, stopping an array of high grade chances by the Red Wings that continuously threatened the lead the Kraken had built. Perhaps last year when it came to handling the struggles of the season, that lead was in danger of evaporating. This year, with Grubauer looking rebuilt, that lead is in safe hands.
2. Matty Beniers is healthy, thriving, and producing. We might as well put the talk away of any effects from the hit on Tyler Myers, or about the wall he could have hit as a first (full) year NHL pro, playing through an extensive season after ripping it up in college. He’s emerged from a ten game point drought with father Bob in the house, with back-to-back multi point games. On Saturday against an up-and-coming Red Wings squad, he was arguably the best player on the ice. Only a big left pad save by Ville Husso prevented a highlight reel goal and three point night.
“I wasn’t thinking too much about it,” Beniers told 93.3 KJR-FM of his ten-game drought. “That’s how the game goes. Some go in some don’t.”
“It’s just focusing on playing your game, not putting up points, and worrying about winning.”
Not too bad of a philosophy sold by a player, who by age, could be in his junior season and in the classroom at Michigan, and instead at age 20 is a front-runner candidate for the Calder Trophy. The more he “drives the bus,” the more the Kraken are going places in the fast lane.
3. Jordan Eberle, Dad Strength, did it again. What a year so far for Eberle, already becoming a father and now experiencing a resurgent 2022-23 campaign. Having father, Darren along for the ride this weekend was the perfect time to give Eberle a boost, collecting a three point game and one shy of a season high. He was at his best again with puck handling through traffic, facilitating on the Jamie Oleksiak goal that stood as the game winner, and scored when it mattered most – getting out to another first period lead (improving the Kraken record to 23-5-2 when scoring the first goal of the game). On a transformed team that can generate offense throughout all four lines, Eberle looks renewed, already surpassing last season’s point total (44) in 23 less games. Eberle needs five more points to hit the 50-point plateau for the first time in five years.
Up next for the Kraken is a 1pm (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) President’s Day matinee on Monday against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center.
KRAKEN LINEUP VS DETROIT, 2/18: