The Vegas Golden Knights raised their 2023 Stanley Cup banner before managing to take care of business on opening night against the visiting Seattle Kraken 4-1. Both goaltenders were excellent while special teams proved the difference.
In this case, it meant the Kraken were unable to click on multiple power plays, including a five-minute opportunity in the 3rd period.
Kraken 1st Period
In a way it was a bit of a microcosm of last season.
The Kraken took awhile to get the power play some offensive zone time and finished 0-for-2 in the first 20 minutes.
At even strength they dominated the first 15 minutes of the period, but lost a little steam when Brandon Tanev effectively scored on himself. Ill-advised would be an understatement; his decision to “pass” the puck from in front of his own net to behind his own net was tipped in by Golden Knight Jonathan Marchessault. That made it 2-0 at 14:57.
Earlier, Vegas scored on its very first shot-on-goal of the season. On a high speed rush, Chandler Stephenson hustled in back-door and tipped home a pass near the right post to give the defending champs a 1-0 lead at the 7:16 mark.
That’s right, it took Vegas that long to get a shot.
The Kraken’s best three opportunities in the period were golden ones, but Vince Dunn shot wide twice and Andre Burakovsky once.
Gut check time early. At 1:20, the Golden Knights went up 3-0 on a breakaway goal from Ivan Barbashev, who went top shelf with a snapper despite being harassed by Dunn. Barbashev was sprung on a long pass up the middle of the ice by D-man Brayden McNabb.
The Kraken stuck with it, eventually capitalizing on some pressure with a goal by Jared McCann at 8:19. Last season’s 40-goal scorer ripped one home from the slot off a pass that caromed to him off a skate.
The rest of the period the Kraken held the Golden Knights at bay at even strength, with the home team’s three shots in the second half of the period all coming on power plays. No tallies on the man advantage in the 2nd.
By the way, Philipp Grubauer was outstanding in net for the Kraken through the first 40-minutes. He didn’t have a chance on any of the Vegas goals and made some sterling saves along the way to keep Seattle in it.
Both teams had decent stretches of puck possession and scoring opportunities in the first five minutes.
Moments later, the door of opportunity was kicked open, or should we say ‘shouldered open’ for the Kraken, when Brett Howden of Vegas hit Tanev in the head with a check. It was deemed a five-minute match penalty, meaning Howden was done for the night and Seattle could score as many goals as possible on the elongated power play.
It took four minutes for the Kraken to get a decent scoring chance on the perpetual power play. They failed, with McCann taking a frustration cross checking penalty when it was over.
Adin Hill ended up making six saves this time while shorthanded for the Golden Knights.
Jack Eichel added an empty net goal.
Shots finished 33-28 in favor of Seattle. Power plays: Seattle 0-for-4 (including a 5-minute), Vegas 0-for-4.
The Kraken start the season 0-and-1 and head to Nashville to take on the Predators on Thursday night. It’s a 5 pm pacific time start.
Kraken 3 Stars:
1) Philipp Grubauer – A strong start for “Grooby” who finished with 24 saves.
2) Jared McCann – The lone goal for the road team while finding multiple chances. Led team with 5 shots on goal.
3) Vince Dunn – Missing training camp games didn’t hurt Seattle’s top defenseman. 22:18 in ice time led team.
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