The Seattle Kraken have, at the very least, shown a greater adaptability than they had during their expansion season.
After blowing a two-goal lead in the third period of their 2022-23 NHL opener, a 5-4 overtime defeat Wednesday at Anaheim, the Kraken responded with a 4-1 victory Thursday at Los Angeles in which they registered a franchise-record 44 hits.
The Kraken will return to Seattle for their home opener Saturday night against the Vegas Golden Knights.
“We played hard for 60 minutes,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “In every way we were better with the puck, we were smarter and a lot of the areas that we wanted to address we did. “But biggest thing is we just played together as a group.”
The Kraken got goals from Jaden Schwartz, Brandon Tanev, Alex Wennberg and an empty-netter from Adam Larsson.
Rookie Matty Beniers, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft who played in 10 games at the end of last season, had a goal wiped out because of a high stick. But he did have an assist to give him points in 11 of his first 12 games. The only other teenagers in league history to accomplish that feat are Joe Sakic and Jonathan Toews.
Both Schwartz and Tanev missed significant time last season because of injuries.
“(The Kings) play a difficult system and a trap that’s tough to break. But I think when the simplicity of the game of is getting pucks in, forechecking and being physical it makes it easier,” Tanev said. “I think when you’re out there with guys that understand the way we need to play it makes the game easier and you just read off each other and communicate try to make things easy.”
Schwartz said the Kraken “learned a little bit” from blowing a lead against the Ducks.
“We just had a better mindset, touched on a few things before we went out there. We just focused on going north a little bit better with the puck and not sitting back. We just continued to pressure them,” Schwartz said. “We did a lot of good things. In six periods of hockey, we played probably 5 1/2 good periods. So, a lot to build on.”
The Golden Knights have won their first two games under new coach Bruce Cassidy, getting a goal from Mark Stone with 26 seconds left in a 4-3 decision at Los Angeles in their opener Tuesday, then defeating visiting Chicago 1-0 Thursday as Paul Cotter scored and Logan Thompson made 27 saves.
“It’s big when you can win games like that, especially this early in the season, to get the points, and keep building off of it,” said Thompson, who posted his second shutout in 22 career NHL appearances.
It was Cotter’s third goal in nine career NHL games. It came on a two-on-one break with Zach Whitecloud midway through the second period, beating Blackhawks goalie Alex Stalock to the short side from the right faceoff circle.
“I just shot it as hard as I could, and the big man upstairs took care of the rest,” Cotter said. “It’s a 0-0 game at that point. We need shots. In a game like that, it’s a weird goal that will go in.”
–Field Level Media