Final Buzzer: Kraken Take Wrong Turn in Opener

Another positive: The Kraken penalty killers posted a clean sheet, shutting down potent VGK power play units twice, one each in the first two periods of play. Meanwhile, after Vegas outchanced the visitors 8 to 4 in Grade-A scoring opportunities during the first period, Seattle rebounded with five high-dangers chances compared to three for Vegas, per Natural Stat Trick.

Power Outage, Late-Game Missed Opportunity

Seattle managed four shots in six minutes of power play time in the first 40 minutes, not a ratio that will satisfy Dave Hakstol’s goal to do better than 21st in the NHL last season, an intention the Kraken coach has mentioned often when asked about power play work in the preseason. The Kraken did generate six shots on a five-minute power play in the final  but VGK goalie Adin Hill made the saves when needed.

Ultimately, we didn’t capitalize when we had the good opportunities, whether it be five on five or on the power play,” said Hakstol. “The positive is we generated some of those opportunities. The flip side of it is they generated chances as well. They’re a good team in terms of transition and off the rush and we saw that on their first goal. We made a mistake and that was their first opportunity.”

The Kraken power play got the chance to redeem matters with a five-minute major called on Vegas’ illegal hit to the head on Brandon Tanev, who also appeared to have a knee twisted as he fell to the ice. Jordan Eberle had a close-in chance early in the five minutes but Adin Hill shut it down and his shot blockers stemmed all attempts. One PK standout for Vegas on the evening: Nicholas Roy, who was originally drafted by Ron Francis when he was GM in Carolina.

“The big one is the power play,” said Eberle when discussing how the game could have turned in the Kraken’s favor after early aggressive play from Seattle. “We’ve got to find a way to get a timely goal there, to find a way to get us back. We had lots of chances.”

“The power play, especially early in the year, is such a huge thing. Last year we had it going early and it carried us. This group is more than capable, we have a lot of skill. This group we can find a way to do it.” 

First Shot and First Period Woes

After the Kraken took the first five shots on goal in Tuesday’s season opener during the game’s first seven minutes, including a tantalizing open look for Andre Burakovsky stopped by Vegas goalie Adin Hill, the home squad’s second line worked a tic-tac-toe play to beat Philipp Grubauer. On literally a banner night for Vegas, the crowd boomed yet again as captain Mark Stone worked the puck to linemate Brett Howden, who zipped a spot-on pass to center Chandler Stephenson’s stick blade and past a sprawling Grubauer while sliding right to left.

It needs to be quickly added that Grubauer proceeded to make several saves on threatening shots and scoring chances to keep his teammates in this 2023-24 opener and its two standings points still in reach. Prime example: Grubauer turned away a Grade-A scoring chance by the aforementioned Stephenson just outside the crease at the 11-minute mark just after the Kraken had come up empty on a second early-game power play.

But with five minutes left and fourth-liner Brandon Tanev appearing to have intercepted a VGK centering pass in the Seattle end and primed to clear it, he bladed the puck back toward the end boards and last spring’s Vegas playoff MVP Jonathan Marchessault smartly and successfully poke-checked the puck to tip it past an understandably unsuspecting Grubauer. Two-nothing bad guys and a lead not surrendered on the night.

To his credit, Grubauer maintained his trademark calm presence to make one more monster save among 10 VGK shots on goal in the first period. He smothered a point-blank netfront shot by Michael Amadio with two minutes in the opening frame.

Third-Period Troubling for Tanev

Not the best of outings for fan favorite Brandon Tanev. Beyond the own goal of sorts in the first period, Tanev suffered a flush-on head hit in which a knee also appeared to twist. Tanev immediately left the ice for the Kraken locker room. There was no immediate update on his condition. Check back on the Kraken app and website for updates. Vegas forward Brett Howden was whistled for a five-minute major for an illegal hit to the head but the Kraken could not convert on the power play. Vegas center Jack Eichel sealed this matchup with a late goal.

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