This date with San Jose was circled as a celebratory night due to Thanksgiving and such. Well, that’s what happened here in the raucous Climate Pledge Arena. That kind of night was just a dream for the Kraken this time last season, but now, owners of 11 wins, an early Sharks lead and later equalizer from San Jose shrugged off this division game as a crucial and scoring one 8- to stamp 5 win.
But with Kraken looking to complete a six-game homestand with four wins and nine points out of a possible 12, the sixth-place matchup with the Sharks also became something of a trap game with higher expectations for Seattle earlier this season.
After a third, it looked like the Kraken could drop to the .500 aggregate mark at home and be 1-2 down after 20 minutes. The Kraken responded to going behind at the first break with three straight goals in the second half (Vince Dunn, Ryan Donato, Jamie Oleksiak) take a 4:2 lead.
Video: [email protected]: Oleksiak meets 4th place of the season in 2nd third
Sharks star Timo Meier, who demanded a pass by banging his racquet loudly on the ice, reduced the lead to 4:3 with his second goal of the evening, but the octopus drove away with the lead for the second break. But the breathing space took a punch in the pit of the stomach when San Jose equaled 4-4 exactly a minute into the third period.
Seattle’s 70-second jab
Less than two minutes later, which statistically qualifies as a response target, Oliver Bjorkstrand broke an 18-game goal drought to score his second goal of the year and level the score at 5-4 Kraken. The scoring game started with Brandon Tanev Forechecking a puck away from a shark in the SJS zone. linemate Yanni Gourde collected the loose puck and quickly moved it to Björkstrand, who patiently but purposefully waited for Sharks goalie Kaapo Kahkonen to move deep onto the ice, flipping the puck around and playing into it.
Video: [email protected]: Björkstrand scores 2nd goal of the season in 3rd place
Seventy seconds later Matty Beniers invaded and found in the San Jose zone Andre Burakowskiwho in turn donned another elite pass and ultimate primary assist Jaden Schwartzsixth goal of the year. Schwartz, always using the veteran move, snagged the puck as soon as he received the puck. Kahkonen stood no chance and Seattle regained control of the night. In the last 10 games they have now scored 17 out of a possible 20 points.
Video: [email protected]: Schwartz scores 6th goal of the season as 3rd
When asked about the 13-goal many-goal affair, Dave Hakstol said: “Sometimes there’s just nights like this… it had that feeling from the start. I look at our goalkeeper [Martin Jones] and he didn’t concede a bad goal tonight and he made some great saves. You have to win games in different ways. That’s not how you envision it, but you have to find a way to win hockey games.”
“I think it was a game with a lot of back and forth movements,” said Burakovsky, who capped his evening with a goal and two assists. “I think we’re doing a really good job at taking care of the opportunities that we created and the opportunities that were given to us. It was really good to see how many players contributed on the offensive side and the defensive side…but overall two points two points such a great win.”
Matty Beniers made several end-to-end rushes on Wednesday night. Get used to it in all the good ways, Kraken fans. He began taking control of a shift, even power plays, in just his second game last season, fresh from the NCAA. He’ll only grow more confident in getting the puck from his blue line to the opposing goal, significantly jeopardizing Seattle’s busy offensive game this season — and beyond.
He finished the game as the No. 1 star with one goal and two assists. The crowd, who roared all night, reached for something extra when Beniers came to hunt the fish.
“It was kind of an up-and-down game with a lot of offense, so it was a fun game,” said Beniers. “You’re always kind of active, so it’s easy to stick with it… tonight we really ducked and took our chances. It’s not always like that, but it’s good to see it tonight.”
Oleksiak Back in gear and aim mode
Kraken defender Jamie Oleksiak has missed the last four games with a lower body injury. He returned to the lineup on Wednesday and paired with the usual D partner Justin Schulz with the same strength and top minutes in the penalty shootout.
Oleksiak and Schultz were already partners when both veterans played for Pittsburgh and paired for much of the 2017-18 season.
“We know each other’s inclinations,” Oleksiak said in a recent conversation. “It’s a different system [in Seattle], which requires some adjustments. but [Schultz is] quite easy to read. I like how he can move the puck.”
Schultz moved the puck with elite skills on Kraken’s fourth night, which happened to be Oleksiak’s fourth goal of the season. Schultz faked a shot on goal and directed it head-on at his partner, who had advanced into the game.
“We complement each other,” said Oleksiak. “He’s so sure with the puck. It’s great to have a partner who’s there when you get into trouble. And if you give him the puck in the offensive zone, he’ll make a game.”