There are plenty of choices for the Seattle Kraken in 2021-’22 as we approach the quarter mark of the season, but these three stood out as milestones, moments that only come along once in the life of a second year franchise.
Bouncing back from a blown lead and an overtime loss in Anaheim against the Ducks on opening night and following it up with a convincing win in Los Angeles the very next evening was once thing, but what happened eight nights later was ever better.
October 21st – Seattle Kraken 3, Colorado Avalanche 2
I mean, come on! Not only are the Av’s defending Stanley Cup champions, but they went 32-5-and-4 at home last season. Hangover, smangover, the Kraken went into Denver and beat ’em.
Energy was the key, a sign of things to come for the Kraken this season. Scoreless after one period, Seattle picked up two goals 22-seconds apart to take a lead early in the second, with Jaden Schwartz and Jared McCann lighting the lamp.
Despite being dramatically outdrawn in the face-off circle and also outhit, the Kraken fired 38 shots on goal to the Avalanche’s 20. Colorado head coach Jared Bednar complained that his team was sloppy and spent most of the night defending. Despite that, the champs put on a push and picked up a goal in the second and another six minutes into the third to tie it.
Who would prevail in the tough battle that would ensue the rest of the way? The Kraken, on a goal from Karson Kuhlman from Schwartz and Jamie Oleksiak at 12:06. Seattle held on, the first real sign that fans were watching a different team this season.
“We played a rock solid 60 minutes,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We were confident from the drop of the puck. We knew they’d have a little push in their home building, and they did in the first couple of shifts, but we settled things down.”
Yes, Philipp Grubauer was injured in this game, but the blessing in disguise is that Martin Jones stepped up to admirably take the reins and handle the ensuing schedule with outstanding play. And Grubauer is healthy again.
November 1st – Seattle Kraken 5, Calgary Flames 4
No surprise it’s another road game considering the Kraken are 5-1-and-1 away from Climate Pledge Arena this season.
This was no simple one, it was a pleasant surprise and a huge confidence builder to start a three-game road trip, one the Kraken would go on to sweep.
The Flames are defending Pacific Division champs and despite some major personnel changes, many believed they’d be headed back on top this season. In this game Seattle was relentless.
Down 4-2 late in the third period the Kraken punished Calgary for assuming anything. Again, outdrawn, outhit, and in this case, outshot on the road, Seattle found a way via special teams, so often the difference. The road team tallied the only power play goal of this game when Daniel Sprong scored to make it a one goal difference at 8:31 of the third.
Things looked dire when Justin Schultz went off for hooking at 10:52, until Yanni Gourde stole the puck on the penalty kill, skated in and scored a shorthanded goal 34-seconds later to tie it.
The Kraken had all of the momentum and rookie Matty Beniers finished it off with his fifth goal of the season at 13:26 from Jordan Eberle. The turn of events had the staff, the team, and the fans watching on the telly back home smiling.
November 17th – Seattle Kraken 3, New York Rangers 2 – Overtime
After losing four nights earlier in overtime to the Winnipeg Jets 3-2, the coaching staff set out to improve some of the puck possession habits and decision making involved with 3-on-3 overtime. The training paid off.
In a pretty evenly played match in which the road Rangers scored twice on the power play, the Kraken were forced to overcome a gut check. Or a gut punch.
On the previous Sunday evening in the loss to the Jets, the Kraken blew their one-goal lead when they took a bad penalty in the final minute of regulation and gave up the tying goal with 5.2-seconds remaining. Then they coughed up the puck in OT, which led to Winnipeg’s winning goal on a 2-on-1 rush.
It was looking like history repeating itself when New York’s Mika Zibanejad scored a power play goal with two minutes remaining in regulation with Carson Soucy in the penalty box for hooking. Tied 2-2 again.
This time however, lessons learned, the Kraken would prevail, giving them their first ever overtime victory. Schultz scored at the 3:36 mark and the Climate Pledge Arena erupted.
Oddly enough, two nights later, the Kraken would play a third consecutive overtime game, another 3-2 final, and they’d win it against the LA Kings.