Jordan Eberle had a goal and an assist while the Seattle Kraken scored five unanswered goals, en route to a big 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday before 18,722 fans at Rogers Arena.
Are you ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs? The Kraken are on the threshold of clinching. Simple math has them in with a win over Arizona on Thursday, while other complicated factors can help them get in aside from a win with five games still remaining.
“Best time of the year, it’s exciting,” said forward Yanni Gourde.
“Fighting to clinch the playoffs, the energy is great, it’s fun, is why you play hockey.”
The Kraken finished the season series 2-1-1 against the Canucks, earning their first win for regular season play at Rogers Arena in franchise history before a large contingent of Kraken fans, making noise during the rally of five unanswered goals.
Down 2-0, the Kraken had a daunting task, but found enough time to get out of a predicament. Yanni Gourde’s first period goal cut the deficit in half, then a big momentum swing delivered Brandon Tanev’s shorthanded goal in the second period, followed by Eberle’s 18th of the season at 10:40 and Jaden Schwartz’s power play goal to cap the second period rally.
Matty Beniers, who leads NHL rookies in goal scoring, buried his 22nd goal of the season on a third period empty netter to seal the win.
1. The goal that started it all: Yanni Gourde. For the first 13 minutes, the Kraken looked a little off the tracks. Elias Pettersson scored nearly unmarked at the net. Anthony Beauvillier scored on a 15-foot layup with Martin Jones and half of an open net exposed. Collin Delia, shaky at best, was rarely tested. The Kraken were trending in the wrong direction and found themselves in grave danger to a 2-0 deficit against a team that’s been mathematically eliminated but saves their best hockey for a rival just two hours south.
“The first goal to right the ship a little bit was big,” said head coach Dave Hakstol.
That’s when Gourde stepped up, and delivered a goal that changed the whole game. He beat Delia from well out, toward the right circle to cut the Vancouver lead to 2-1 and eliminate any circulation the Canucks had with life.
“The goal at the end by Gourde-o was huge,” said Eberle. “I think for the most part, we liked our first period, we created a lot, but we just obviously found ourselves at the other end. I liked the way we came out and responded.”
Despite a two-man advantage they had to kill in the second period, the Kraken played like a sense of belief had arrived. The Vince Dunn breakaway (that Delia stopped) was an omen. The Tanev shorthanded goal was a promise. The Kraken overwhelmed the Canucks with five unanswered goals. Game, set, match.
2. Poise won out over premeditated punishment: For a matchup that was well over two months in the making since a blind Tyler Myers hit knocked out Matty Beniers from a 6-1 Kraken win in January, and the vitriol the followed, you can’t blame anybody for having this game circled on the calendar.
Yet, it didn’t play out that way. In the “eye for an eye” world of professional hockey, where numbers are taken and players are remembered in the minds of those who have “long memories,” it’s very likely a score to settle with Myers was backburnered. The Kraken prioritized settling the bigger score on the board that had a much greater impact on their playoff future. Jaden Schwartz took one run at Myers on a hit early in the game, but no other scrums were happening in a game the Kraken needed to win.
3. Thursday: potential clinch day: The Kraken could have rested on Wednesday and let the playoff berth trickle in, but needed massive help. Vegas and Nashville had different plans, and the Predators stayed realistically alive in the playoff race with a 4-3 overtime win. A Vegas win in regulation meant the Kraken could have gone to bed Wednesday night with the playoffs all wrapped up, also with Winnipeg beating Calgary.
It didn’t work out that way, but the Kraken are now on the doorstep of a playoff berth, their first in season number two. That’s also their magic number to get in: two points. While knocking on the door, they can bust it down completely with a win on Thursday over Arizona.
They can also get their playoff matters settled even right around game time. If Winnipeg beats Calgary on Wednesday in their battle royale for the final wild card berth, and Carolina beats Nashville on Thursday afternoon in regulation, the Kraken are already in.
A potential date with destiny: Thursday with Arizona, 7:30pm (93.3 KJR-FM / Kraken Audio Network) at Climate Pledge Arena.
KRAKEN LINEUP AT VANCOUVER, 4/4: