Mike Amadio converted a pair of goals and added an assist, while Reilly Smith added a three point game as well, helping the Vegas Golden Knights defeat the Seattle Kraken, 4-1 before 18,377 at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday.
The Kraken closed their final set of back-to-back games for the season with a loss, though with a respectable 5-3 mark in the second game of the set this season. They also closed out their road schedule with a 26-11-4 mark, more than doubling last season’s road win total and finishing at the end of the night, fifth in the NHL with 26 road wins.
Joey Daccord was handed the start in net and finished with 33 saves, battling heavy traffic and a 16-shot frame in the second period despite taking the loss. Counterpart and fellow AHL call-up Laurent Brossoit earned the win for Vegas with a 20-save effort.
Yanni Gourde scored the only goal for the Kraken, in the first period at 9:06 and beat Brossoit off the rush from the right circle. Amadio’s two goals and Smith’s late second period goal built a 3-1 lead for Vegas, who finished their offensive job with Jonathan Marchessault’s two-man advantage goal at 3:23 of the third.
The Kraken have one more matchup to go until the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Thursday night at home to close the regular season schedule against Vegas at 7:30pm (93.3 KJR-FM / Kraken Audio Network). The Kraken still sit two points back of third place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division.
1. Throw this one away. Aside from health, there’s not much to salvage from a defeat like Tuesday night. The Kraken came out flat in the opening minutes, surrendered the game’s first goal, and never had a lead in a game that realistically bared little consequence and had the Kraken battling fatigue with their second game in as many days. Justin Schultz, Morgan Geekie, and Carson Soucy were already scratched. They could do no better than tie the idle Los Angeles Kings with a win and are already entrenched no lower than the first wild card spot.
“Not a lot of energy tonight,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol.
“(Vegas) played well. They were on top of us, didn’t give us a lot of time and space, and when you’re a half step slow, and not a ton of energy, it was a tough night for us to generate anything with the puck.”
A rare five-on-three coming off stacked minor penalties to Will Borgen (interference) and Jesper Froden (hooking) allowed Vegas to open the game with a full two minute stretch in the two man advantage.
“Marginal,” Hakstol said, weighing the calls.
“To go down five on three, that was a tough spot. That didn’t dictate the outcome of the game in any shape or form. Coming out in the second period, they took over the hockey game. We looked like a team who had tired legs.”
It only took 18 seconds for Marchessault to hammer a rebound from the left circle to make it 3-1, and the Kraken failed to materialize any kind of significant response for the rest of the evening. It’s off brand from what’s been otherwise a strong road record this season that’s ranked among the league’s best, finishing 26-11-4.
2. Not Joey Daccord’s fault. True, the goaltender is your last line of defense, but for an extremely busy night that required 33 saves, Daccord was rarely at fault, if at all, on the ones that got past him. Both goals by Amadio were the finishing product of a Kraken defense that failed to tie him up at the net. Reilly Smith followed with a rebound goal while left unchecked, and Marchessault converted on the two-man advantage from the left circle.
“His compete level throughout tonight was really good,” said Hakstol. “He made some big saves and some athletic saves.”
All four goals came on shots that were difficult to impossible for Daccord, who still turned in 33 saves to give the Kraken a chance for most of the night.
3. Hello wild card 1? The situation isn’t completely settled at this point, but Tuesday night’s game drove the Kraken to a likelier scenario where they’re facing the Colorado Avalanche next week in the opening round of the playoffs. Never assume anything when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the Kraken won two of three matchups, losing the only contest in a shootout on Jan. 21, a vast difference than getting Edmonton, who the Kraken would face if they win Thursday, and if the Kings lose their finale. Edmonton, a heat-seeking missile at 13-0-1 in the last 14 games and led by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, won three of four matchups and averaged five goals per game in the season series. It’s a far loftier challenge for the Kraken to conquer.
Vegas could still slide down to the second spot with the Kraken as their opponent – for that to happen, the Kraken need to win Thursday in regulation, the Kings would have to lose in regulation at Anaheim, and Edmonton would have to win Thursday against San Jose. So, in other words, nothing’s settled at this point, and it’s likelier wait toward the end of Thursday night, or even Friday (Colorado finishes their schedule that night) when everything falls into place.
LINEUP AT VEGAS, 4/11: