Seattle Kraken, Eeli Tolvanen

Kraken Lock Up 1st Wild Card, Whip Blackhawks 7-3

Plenty at stake on Saturday night for both teams. The win meant the Kraken locked up the 1st wild card spot in the Western Conference and moved to within two points of 3rd place in the Pacific Division. The LA Kings, presently occupying 3rd with 100 points, lost 4-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights. The Kraken have 98 points and a game in hand on the Kings.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks wouldn’t mind the loss. Coaches and players don’t tank, but the team isn’t very good, and the setback means better odds at winning the NHL Draft Lottery and picking generational top-overall pick Connor Bedard.

The Hawks entered the evening tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks with the fewest points in the league, 56.

The goaltending match-up featured Petr Mrazek for the visitors and Martin Jones for Seattle. Philipp Grubauer ended up taking over at the start of the third period. Jones left with an apparent hand injury but no details were given postgame.

Kraken Goal Scorers:

1st Period

1-0 Kraken – Even Strength – Eeli Tolvanen (18) from Jesper Froden and Jamie Oleksiak, 4:48

Tolvanen took a drop pass and unloaded a twisted wrister from the left circle that beat Mrazek gloveside.

2-1 Kraken – Even Strength – Jordan Eberle (20) from Jamie Oleksiak (8:55)

From the left point, ‘Big Rig’ blindly flung a pass to the front of the net that went in off both of Eberle’s skates.

3-1 Kraken – Power Play – Yanni Gourde (13) from Jordan Eberle and Daniel Sprong (19:09)

As to not knock the puck in with a high stick, Gourde controlled the puck in mid air and then batted it in.

2nd Period

4-2 Kraken – Even Strength – Adam Larsson (8) from Jared McCann and Jamie Oleksiak, 12:21

Just out of the penalty box, Larsson was sprung on a breakaway and made no mistake deking Mrazek.

5-2 Kraken – Even Strength – Daniel Sprong (21) from Justin Schultz, 13:16

Chicago turned the puck over twice, the 2nd time Schultz deflecting it to Sprong for a one-time wrister stick-side.

3rd Period

6-3 Kraken – Even Strength –Jared McCann (39) from Oliver Bjorkstrand, 11:54

Another Chicago turnover in their own end leads to a quick pass to McCann who wrists it home from the right circle.

7-3 – Even Strength – Morgan Geekie (9) from Daniel Sprong and Ryan Donato, 14:51

Pressure off the forecheck leads to a quick pass play down low and Geekie alone by the left post.

Defenseman Seth Jones had two goals for the Blackhawks. Lukas Reichel had their third tally.

Seattle ended up out-shooting Chicago 31-28. Power plays: Chicago 1-for-3, Seattle 1-for-3

Kraken 3 Stars:

1) Jamie Oleksiak – The Big Rig finished with a 3 points night.

2) Daniel Sprong – Goal and two assists and skating like the wind.

3) Jordan Eberle – Goal and an assist, both in the 1st period.

“Simmer in 60” postgame.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.