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Morning Swim: Haydn Fleury’s 2-goal night lifts Kraken past Wild

The team continues to improve with each passing home game

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Seattle Kraken Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t look now, but the Seattle Kraken are officially on a winning streak! Sure, it’s only two games, but that’s the first back-to-back wins ever for this team so let’s go ahead and be excited about this one. The victory improves Seattle’s record to 3-4-1 on the year and 4th place in the Pacific division.

The Kraken have now played thrice at home in Climate Pledge Arena and has only looked better with each contest, especially when compared to that initial 5-game road trip. There were a few bumps in the road to Thursday’s win, but far more pleasant surprises.

Distinct Kicking Motion Redux

Remember that time Vegas spoiled Seattle’s epic comeback with a goal that was officially ruled not a kick? Well now Kraken fans know what it’s like to actually get a “distinct kicking motion” call to go in their favor. The Wild took an early lead in this one on a Ryan Hartman goal and just 12 seconds later appeared to extend it to a 2-0 lead. It was a morale killer for sure, watching back-to-back goals go in like that to put the team in a hole so early. But thankfully, the referees got together and made the call that they were afraid to make in Vegas two weeks ago.

Was it more of a kick than the Vegas goal? Maybe, maybe not. The important thing is this one didn’t count, and the Kraken remained chasing a one-goal deficit instead of a two-goal deficit. Which brings us to the next piece of good news from this one.

Haydn Fleury: Sniper

After sitting out two straight games, including the home opener, defenseman Haydn Fleury has come back out firing. Over the last two games, Fleury leads the team in both shot attempts and shots on goal despite playing the fewest minutes of any defender in that time frame. And boy did it pay off on Thursday.

This first goal was emblematic of the way he’s played these past two games. If he sees an opportunity to get the puck on net, he’s going to take it. This one must’ve been a big confidence booster too because after that he seemed to decide he was ready to jump into Gretzky’s office and turn in the first multi-goal game of his career.

Fleury has generated all of his offense at 5-on-5, as Mark Giordano and Vince Dunn are pretty well entrenched on the two power play units. And that’s totally fine, as 5-on-5 offense is something the Kraken could really use more of going forward.

Dearest Grubert

Seattle played pretty solid defense in front of Philipp Grubauer through two periods, which is not an easy feat against this Minnesota Wild team. Granted, they are without Mats Zuccarello, but there’s still plenty of danger from guys like Joel Eriksson Ek and Kirill Kaprizov. After 39 minutes, the Kraken had only given up two high-danger scoring chances (compared to eight for themselves) according to Natural Stat Trick. But then, in the waning seconds of the 2nd period, a brutal turnover to precisely the guy you’d least like to turn the puck over to gave Minnesota a fighting chance to head into the third period in a tie game. Fortunately for Seattle fans (and Yanni Gourde) Grubauer — who had only faced 3 shots to that point in the period — came up with the big save.

Midway through the third period, Minnesota went on the power play and began just pouring it on Seattle. It was perhaps the most key moment in the game, as Seattle was still clinging to a 2-1 lead and beginning to look like their 3rd-period woes of the bygone road trip were creeping back in. The Wild took 7 shots, 5 of which went on net, in the first 41 seconds of that man advantage—culminating in these golden opportunities that Eriksson Ek couldn’t bury.

Finish them!

As mentioned above, there were a few minutes there in the 3rd period when it seemed as though the Kraken’s sit-back-and-defend approach to holding a one-goal lead in the final 20 minutes was coming back.

However, aside from that flurry of power play shots by Minnesota, the shots that made it to the net were actually fairly even. At 5-on-5, Minnesota put 8 shots on net to Seattle’s 6. The Kraken did not sit back and take it, like they have done in games past. More importantly, after getting some help from Grubauer, they found a way to cash in in the final minutes when the Wild pulled Cam Talbot for the extra attacker. Minnesota never really got set up in the offensive zone, and hard work by Joonas Donskoi and Yanni Gourde eventually led to who else but Brandon Tanev putting a bow on this one with the empty net goal.

And just for good measure, the captain Mark Giordano added one more empty net goal with 7 seconds remaining to make it a 4-1 win for the Kraken. All in all, a great two-game stretch for Seattle. They’ll look to make it three straight on Sunday when they host the New York Rangers in the final game of this homestand.