RECAP: Kraken hand Arizona first win of the season


The Arizona Coyotes welcomed the Seattle Kraken to Gila River Arena as the Coyotes tried to get their first win of the regular season. Seattle continued to struggle in goal and on the power play, which ended up being the Kraken’s downfall. Arizona ended up ahead as the final horn sounded, and the Kraken blew what should have been a relatively easy win.

If one only watched the first period, you might have figured the Kraken ran away with this game. Seattle got goals by Jordan Eberle and Yanni Gourde in the first minute of play to put the Kraken out ahead against rookie goalie Karel Vejmelka, which ended his night early.

Enter fresh waiver acquisition from the New Jersey Devils, Scott Wedgewood.

Arizona forward Antoine Roussel cut the Kraken lead in half at the 1:33 mark on a bad neutral zone turnover by Kraken forward Morgan Geekie. Nathan Bastian scored his first of the season just past the midway point of the period to give Seattle back a two-goal lead. Seattle carried that lead into the first intermission. The score read 3–1 and the shot totals read 11–8, both in favor of the visiting team.

The second period was relatively tame compared to the first (and eventually the third). Arizona’s Travis Boyd cut the Kraken lead down to 3–2 with his goal just over three minutes into the middle period following a lazy backhand clearing attempt by defenseman Haydn Fleury. Shots were low, as well, with the Coyotes holding a slight 8–7 edge. All the action would be in the third period, though.

Seattle outshot the Coyotes 13–6 in the third period, yet yielded three third period goals on those six shots faced. A long strike by Lawson Crouse and a power play goal by Amanda Kessel’s brother, Phil Kessel, left the Coyotes up by one goal heading into the final minutes of regulation play. With the goalie pulled and the extra attacking on the ice, Kraken captain Mark Giordano scored his third goal of the season to tie the game for the visitors with just 1:18 remaining in the game. But, just 13 seconds later, Crouse scored his second goal of the game following an awful Adam Larsson turnover. Crouse’s goal ended up being the back-breaking game-winner for the Coyotes.

Anchor points

⚓ Goaltending and the power play. The Kraken are either going to live or die with these two areas. They failed on two power plays while giving up a goal on their only shorthanded chance. Philipp Grubauer was less than mediocre on the evening. Five goals on 22 shots is flat-out bad no matter who you are facing. He was out-dueled by a career backup that was picked off waiver just hours before. This would have been a perfect game to get Chris Driedger some action, but Head Coach Dave Hakstol thought otherwise.

⚓ That said, Wedgewood played an incredible game, especially coming in cold in a 2–0 hole.

⚓ When you outshoot a team 31–22 and score four goals, that is a game you should win. The Coyotes did, however, play a much more physical game and beat the Kraken handily at the faceoff dots 57% to 43%. If Gourde is going to be their first-line center, he needs to win more than 27% of his faceoffs. Eberle and Jaden Schwartz led the way in shots with five each.

⚓ Analytically, the Kraken looked on par for a win with their 5-on-5 play. They led in Corsi 59% to 41% (shot attempts), Fenwick 57% to 43% (unblocked shots), high danger chances 57% to 43% and expected goals 63% to 37%. The fourth line of Bastian, Max McCormick and Riley Sheahan was eaten alive at even strength with sub-40% possession metrics.

⚓ Kraken forward Ryan Donato played only 3:39 and left the game with an apparent upper-body injury.

The Kraken are off Sunday and Monday. They will travel to Las Vegas Tuesday, where they will return to the same place the regular season began. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. PST.