Jake DeBrusk capped a late third period rally by ending back-to-back goals in a span of 2:03, helping the Boston Bruins survive a thriller at Climate Pledge Arena in a 6-5 loss for the Seattle Kraken before a sellout crowd of 17,151 on Thursday.
The much anticipated rematch, after the Kraken shellshocked Boston 3-0 last month, fully came as advertised. In a matchup of two teams aiming for the playoffs tethered to history, the Kraken refused to wilt in their chase for their first berth in just their second season, up against a Bruins team that has the runway and personnel to become one of the greatest single season teams of all-time.
“Compete level was outstanding all the way through the game,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “There was a lot of intensity, pace, back and forth especially during the second period and late in the hockey game. “
No team led more than by just one goal, carrying a 4-4 tie into the third period when it appeared the Kraken were on the cusp of a mind-blowing sweep of the Bruins. On a four-on-four situation, Jaden Schwartz’s 13th goal of the season ignited the sellout crowd with a tip in front of Jeremy Swayman for a 5-4 lead with just 4:10 to play.
It would only last 29 seconds.
On the next shift, Brandon Carlo tipped a puck past Philipp Grubauer at the right circle to tie the game. Then the Bruins, buzzing with momentum in the offensize zone, seized the lead with just 1:38 left in regulation when DeBrusk deflected Charlie McAvoy’s point shot past Philipp Grubauer.
“Give them credit - they made a play to knot it up quickly,” said Hakstol.
The Kraken were left lamenting their second straight loss, but with a different feel than when they were lapped, 4-0 by San Jose on Monday. They filled a grab bag of goals scored in different methods, and had 11 players hit the scoresheet.
“It was a fun game to be a part of,” said forward Yanni Gourde, a veteran who has waged battles leading to two Stanley Cup rings. “A lot of hitting, and it just felt like every little battle was huge. Little plays were important.”
Swayman took the win with 36 saves, while Grubauer’s loss was tethered to a 27-save performance, including a highlight-reel save in the second period on Brad Marchand.
Jesper Froden, called up on Wednesday from AHL Coachella Valley, earned an assist in his Kraken debut.
1. Big players showed up in big moments. Beniers promptly beat a childhood influence David Krejci on the opening face-off and promptly scored on the first shot. He earned two points. Vince Dunn delivered a two point game. Philipp Grubauer, despite six goals getting by him (many which weren’t his fault), flashed an array of highlight reel saves. The Kraken also had to contend with Patrice Bergeron’s shorthanded goal, David Pastrnak’s highlight reel snipe, and Brad Marchand helping deliver in the clutch.
“If we defend the way we usually defend, we’re in a good spot,” said Gourde.
From the Kraken perspective, they knew what they were going to get: a Boston team that full of winning vinegar and ready to douse the Kraken with an early misstep. For big games, the cliché often calls for big players to step up in big moments. Despite the final result, the build-up provided an encouraging sign of the Kraken hanging in the fight with the league’s top team for much of the evening, and potential with just 24 games to go.
2. The Kraken saw, full tilt, what it will take to beat a Stanley Cup contender in the prime of their season. Boston is a well-oiled machine that is primed to take down plenty of NHL benchmarks this season – some that have stood for decades. They’ve earned the luxury of a core that’s been together through battles spanning as long as over a decade, along with a Stanley Cup and three trips to the Final in the last 12 years. Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and David Pastrnak have built thick skin to combat high intensity battles and turn them into victories. They went up another level with all the chips down, and less than two minutes on the clock. They know where their linemates are, they know about the extra inch needed late in games, and know how to win those battles. They’re 10-2 when tied after two periods, and now lead the NHL with 82 third period goals.
“That’s part of why we’ve been so good this year,” said Marchand. “No matter the situation, we seem to be calm and can come back.”
The quartet mentioned functioned as the nucleus of a team who needed six goals to beat the Kraken, and found a way to squeeze every drop out of the lemon to do it, ending with a crafty deflection at the net when the Kraken couldn’t find the exit route out of their own zone. Very likely, the road to the Stanley Cup will go through this team, who showed how frighteningly tough of an out they will be this spring.
3. Would you like this game for a dose of playoff hockey? It was beautiful, it was captivating, it was dramatic, and it was a cliffhanger. To this date, it was the most gripping Kraken game of the season. Four goals combined between the teams came in a tidal wave span of 8:30 in the second period. Early goals from Matty Beniers and Vince Dunn, in the first two periods, injected a surge of energy that lasted for much of the night. We enjoy high-stakes, riverboat gambling 9-8 games like we saw in Los Angeles, or the 8-5 slugfest the Kraken won against San Jose. This game had more resistance, and the feeling of the way it was meant to be played: a blend of Kraken speed, Bruins grit, showstopping moments, and nobody leading more by just one goal with a stalemate carried late in into the third period. Four times, an exchange of two goals were scored in less than two minutes. If this was a Stanley Cup Playoff game, it would be logged as an instant classic. Social media began to daydream with this matchup as a Stanley Cup Final preview.
With respect to how uncertain and tight the playoff picture is, wouldn’t that be nice?
It's tight. The Kraken are just four points clear of a playoff spot after Calgary lost in overtime at Vegas on Thursday. The Kraken next take on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Sunday at 4pm (93.3 KJR-FM / Kraken Audio Network) at Climate Pledge Arena.
KRAKEN LINEUP VS. BOSTON, 2/23: