Get ready. Game six is an elimination game, and the Seattle Kraken have made it happen with a 3-2 victory, in heart pounding fashion, over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal.
The Kraken broke an Avalanche run of six straight wins after losing a game and have taken a commanding 3-2 series advantage with Friday all set for Climate Pledge Arena to open its doors to opportunity, where at 7pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) the Kraken can knock out the defending Stanley Cup champion and advance to round two, in storybook fashion, with one more win.
“It’ll be a great atmosphere,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “We know what, we’ll be excited for that.”
Another note for the storybook, Tye Kartye was called up AHL Coachella Valley ahead of Game 5, promptly was inserted into the lineup for his NHL debut in a Stanley Cup Playoff game – and scored a goal. It was pivotal, as the Kraken took a 2-1 lead and would hang on the rest of the way. Yanni Gourde’s early third period held off Colorado’s rally set up by Evan Rodrigues’ tally with 3:37 left in regulation, leaving the Kraken and Philipp Grubauer (26 saves) to hold off one last gasp by the Avalanche, pounding the front of their net.
Morgan Geekie and Nathan MacKinnon exchanged second period goals before Kartye put the Kraken ahead for good.
1. Next man up isn’t a cliché, it’s a way of life. Tye Kartye woke up on Wednesday morning not knowing if he would play in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. That all changed with a text to his parents, based in another country. Kingston, Ontario to Denver isn’t exactly a routine commute. Katye’s parents rushed a plane out of Toronto, missed the opening puck drop, and just made it in time to see Kartye score in the second period.
“His poise is really good,” said Hakstol. “He’s ready to be here, that’s why we were comfortable putting him in.”
It was an incredible moment for an incredible opportunity, with Kartye becoming the first player in four years to score a goal in his NHL debut, while coming in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The funny thing is, the last guy to do it is the reason Kartye got into the game in the first place: Cale Makar (who injured Jared McCann in game 4, leaving McCann out of Game 5 and doubtful for the rest of the series).
For the moment that presented Kartye with an opportunity of a lifetime, he didn’t make it bigger than what he could handle, putting all 28 goals in the AHL on one line with Matty Beniers and Jordan Eberle – and didn’t look out of place at all. “Next man up” got it done on Kartye’s line.
Kartye didn’t overthink it. He didn’t have time to.
“Just go out there and play, try not to think too much,” said Kartye on the advice of the coaching staff.
“Just be me.”
2. Poise is getting the Kraken through this series. Going into a hostile building like Ball Arena isn’t easy, where the Avalanche are well known for their momentum swings and crowd volume of their own (an occasion that influenced Game 2 and their comeback victory). But like the victory in March where the Kraken firmly stamped their presence as a postseason contender where they were able to self-regulate, they handled shift after shift and the final chaotic two minutes with poise.
“Just solid throughout our lineup,” said Hakstol.
“We wanted to get off to an even start and just make sure we didn’t have to come in here and chase a game in a loud building.”
It’s a stark contrast to what we saw out one Avalanche star in Cale Makar, with a pristine track record, laying a late hit into Jared McCann that earned a one-game suspension and was defiant of a clean track record for a generational superstar. It’s a stark contrast to what we saw out of another Avalanche star in Nathan MacKinnon, visibly upset after colliding with Will Borgen, then arguing for a penalty while nearly smashing his stick against the glass and the Kraken simultaneously marching down ice at for Kartye to score his goal.
“It’s not 1975; I feel like that’s a trip,” MacKinnon said after the game, in a moment of self-accountability.
3. Game 6 is set to be a volume record breaker for the ages. Think about how loud it got for the Sonics when they were chasing Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the 90’s. Think about how loud it got, literally causing an effect on the Richter scale, on a Marshawn Lynch playoff touchdown. Or the ear-splitting, decibel-shattering levels on Cal Raleigh’s walk-off homer last year.
Game six represents more than just an elimination game. It represents an opportunity for the next great moment in Seattle sports history to share, consume, and remember forever. The Kraken, who have now scored the first goal in a game for the fifth straight time this series, have a chance to become the first team in NHL history to defeat a defending Stanley Cup champion in the first series of their playoff debut.
Amazing to consider, how far they’ve come since day one of training camp, September of 2021. And amazing to consider, with so many souls consumed by the game and a sense of pride in the region, how loud Climate Pledge Arena will be on Friday night.
KRAKEN LINEUP VS. COLORADO, GAME 4: