A first period fizzle too much to overcome in 4-1 loss to Edmonton

Vegas Golden Knights v Seattle Kraken

Photo: Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

A Saturday night that could only be described as disappointing and “awry” went in that direction quickly in the first period, when the Edmonton Oilers scored four goals in a span of 9:46 to defeat the Seattle Kraken, 4-1 before a sellout crowd of 17,151 at Climate Pledge Arena on Saturday. 

Zach Hyman had a natural hat trick, the second of his career, and the first natural hat trick in the first period in Oilers history since Wayne Gretzky did it 37 years ago against the Quebec Nordiques. 

Stuart Skinner wasn’t busy, but effective with 17 saves. Philipp Grubauer had his night end early with four goals allowed on 17 shots, replaced after 20 minutes by Joey Daccord (who stopped all nine shots he faced). 

Three takeaways from the game: 

1.     An alternative universe: Yanni Gourde’s chance early in the game. The Kraken knew they had to jump on the Oilers and get to them early. Edmonton knew they had to own the first ten minutes of the game. The game wouldn’t be won in just that span. Dave Hakstol told Everett Fitzhugh in his exclusive pregame conversation that it would be a 60-minute battle. After all: Edmonton came into the game as a cornered animal. They lost four straights, were humbled on national television in a loss to the lowly San Jose Sharks, and were emitting fumes in the level of “confidence.” 

The Kraken were painstakingly close to a 1-0 lead when Yanni Gourde nearly re-directed Eeli Tolvanen’s feed through the five-hole of Skinner. That was the best chance the Kraken had to take a lead in the first ten minutes. You can only imagine if they took the lead, the seed of fear planted in Edmonton, perhaps paralyzed by another “oh no” moment to endure in an early season freefall. 

Except, it didn’t happen. And it led to ….

2.     Edmonton won the first ten minutes. The results that followed took the game completely off the tracks. 
The Kraken were so close to winning the first ten minutes. After the squandered opportunity, Evander Kane capitalized on a misjudged pinch down the boards by defenseman Justin Schultz, leaving the Kraken defenseman out of position for a two-on-one Oilers break. 

When they’re at their best, they don’t miss those. Kane fed Zach Hyman, who roofed a backhander over Grubauer’s shoulder, and the Oilers drilled a leak. 

It eventually turned into a messy spill. The Kraken took two penalties in the first period against a lethal Oilers power play, who emerged out of a recent dry spell for a 2-0 lead with Hyman tucking a rebound to Grubauer’s glove side. Hyman then outmuscled the Kraken defense at the net for a 3-0 lead with just 1:20 left, and Dylan Holloway tacked on his first goal of the season, with Grubauer unable to recover at the blocker side post, for a shocking 4-0 lead with just 18 seconds remaining. 

The Kraken did an admirable job to stop the bleeding for the rest of the night, but in a first period they needed for success, the Oilers halted those plans swiftly. 

3.     One bright spot: Jaden Schwartz.  
The Kraken power play was able to break through finally on Schwartz’s tap-in goal past the blocker side of Skinner at 2:25 of the third period, extending the veteran forward’s point streak to nine games, a new NHL career high. 

Schwartz, who earned the praise of head coach Dave Hakstol on Saturday morning for his efficient work on the power play, has been a beast for the five-man unit who collected a goal for the sixth straight game. Schwartz often operates as a screen at the net, manufacturing chaos in front of goaltenders or working for deflections. Eeli Tolvanen’s feed from the right circle was on the money, leaving Schwartz to present his stick for an easy tap-in. As the Kraken power play continues to produce, Schwartz continues to produce as a valuable linchpin with grit and front-of-the-net presence the Kraken are finding to be extremely vital. 

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