Takeaways from a 4-1 season opening loss at Vegas

Seattle Kraken v Vegas Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 10: Adin Hill #33 of the Vegas Golden Knights defends the net Matty Beniers #10 of the Seattle Kraken in the third period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on October 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights defeated the Kraken 4-1. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)Photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Like week one of a football season, game one of 82 can tend to be a liar. However, the picture of “what could have been” was crystal clear in the season opener for the Seattle Kraken, who came up empty on four power play opportunities – including a five-minute major – in a 4-1 defeat to the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday night. 

“Both sides of the puck, I felt like we left a little bit out there,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. 


After hoisting their first Stanley Cup championship banner, Vegas scored three unanswered goals – which included a first period mistake where Brandon Tanev accidentally deposited the puck into his own net – to take a 3-0 lead by the early portion of the second period. Jared McCann parked his first goal of the season to cut the deficit, but the Kraken got no closer before the squandered five-minute power play and Jack Eichel’s late third period empty netter. 

Working away at a two-goal deficit, the Kraken – who are winless all-time in three season opening games – received a golden opportunity to turn the game around with the five-minute power play in the third period, but lost Tanev for the remainder of the game when he took a vicious Brett Howden check to the head. Howden received a match penalty, and Tanev would not return. 

No update on Tanev was available immediately after the game.

Adin Hill spun a 32-save effort for the win in net, while Grubauer look the loss on 24 stops. 

Takeaways from Tuesday night:

1.     Game one can be a liar:

Refer to the first sentence of this post. It’s hard to pin long-term judgement and projections on a season that’s just 60 minutes old and has six months to go. Don’t forget, for as magical as last season was, the Kraken started out of the gate with just one win in their first five games. Vegas will likely be as ferocious of a test as it gets this season.

The Kraken came out firing in the first five minutes and blitzed the Golden Knights for a 10-2 advantage in shot attempts before Chandler Stephenson parked the season’s first goal off an odd-man rush – also on Vegas’ first shot of the game. Eeli Tolvanen hit a goal post. Will Borgen missed an open net deflection. Matty Beniers was thwarted on a wide open look early in the third period. 

The line drawing the advantage between the two teams, aside from the scoreboard, was razor thin. The good news for the Kraken – they have two teams ahead on the trip who missed the postseason last year – a softer landing to fix the issues that plagued Tuesday night. 

“Transition, execution in and around the net, getting to a couple of more rebounds,” said Hakstol. “It’s early, it’s game one. There will be a number of things as we go back, tear down through the game and video. There will be a number of things I’m sure we’ll want to look at and improve. That’s typical at this time of year.” 

2.     Missed opportunities connected to the power play: 

This was perhaps the most glaring issue on Tuesday night, with a pair of chances squandered in the first period, then the five-minute major in the third where the Kraken had the door open to score at will, without the penalty expiring to Howden. Vegas’ penalty kill instead set the tone for the first period on home ice, then effectively sealed the game as the Kraken struggled to test Hill from high-danger areas of the ice.

One or two goals would have meant anywhere from the pressure cranked up on Vegas, to completely re-branding a new game. 

“The power play especially in the year is such a huge thing,” said forward Jordan Eberle, who had an assist on McCann’s goal. “Last year we had it going early, and it carried us into some wins. This group is more than capable, there’s a lot of skill in this group.” 

3.     Don’t pin this on Philipp Grubauer:

The Kraken had Vegas in a chaotic storm, ready to strike for the first goal until the first odd-man rush of the game opened the door for Chandler Stephenson, on a deflection that Grubauer had no chance on. Then there’s the Tanev gaffe, completely out of realism to ask a goaltender to handle. 

He took the loss, but Grubauer made several key saves – including two in the first period that could have pinned a potential turning point and prevented the game from turning into a blowout. Although his glove side was pierced on Ivan Barbashev’s breakaway, game one signs are positive for the potential Grubauer could play this season, fully healthy, and coming off a fantastic spring and playoff run. 




Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content