Morning Swim: Seattle rallies a 4-3 Kraken Day victory over the Predators

March 2 will forever be known as Kraken Day to Seattle fans. It’s not the day the franchise was awarded or the day that the name of the team came to be, but the simple numbers of 3/2 stand in and represent the 32nd team in the league. There were festivities to be had, a proclamation from Seattle’s mayor, and, most importantly of all, a Kraken game to watch.

The Kraken already had enough motivation to come into tonight’s game looking for a win. A seven-game losing streak will do that. Yet, with the importance of today’s date, was the team really going to let down their fans? Of course not.

Also, did anyone else find it funny that the giveaway item for a game against the Nashville Predators of all teams involved a miniature replica banner? Please tell me someone involved in the game day experience team has a great sense of humor and did this on purpose.

Period 1

After some back and forth scoring chances that saw the game look pretty evenly matched from the get-go, the first goal of the game went to Nashville as Philip Tomasino scored from right in front of the net.

It was unfortunately just one of those goals that has little chance of being stopped because of the quick release and prime position Tomasino was in. I also don’t think I expected the play to turn into a goal against either. It was so lightning fast in how it developed from behind the net that it felt like my brain was delayed in processing that, yes, the Predators scored.

The entire extended sequence, though, shows the importance of successful forechecking. The play begins with the Kraken in possession of the puck in the Predators’ own zone, but Nashville is able to survive the play because of the check along the back boards that allows them to gain possession back. As they go on the attack, there was enough defensive pressure from the Kraken that it forced them to dump the puck deep, but because Roman Josi was able to lay a hit on Jérémy Lauzon along the boards, the Predators were able to regain possession and take a 1-0 lead.

The Predators are a physical team that lay hit after hit every night. To see that their consistent level of physicality is working for them to create this goal doesn’t feel too surprising.

Oh, and if we needed a reminder that Juuse Saros is one of the best goaltenders in the league, how about the fact he made this save without his stick or his blocker.

I’m obviously rooting for the Kraken at all times, but in this moment, I really did feel fear for Saros. Goalies have survived plays without their sticks before, but to play without the blocker is just dangerous. The close up of his exposed hand just drove home for me how easily he could’ve been injured. Yikes.

Period 2

At the 6:17 mark, Yanni Gourde took a penalty against Filip Forsberg, which allowed Matt Duchene to score on the power play.

It was just one of those snipes that unfortunately makes it past your goaltender sometimes, especially when the goal scorer happens to have the boost of a power play working in his favor.

But you see, the Kraken love a good narrative. They really love a good narrative.

Last game, the Kraken’s only goal came only nine seconds after the Sharks scored the opening goal. It was a shocking reverse of how things usually go for the Kraken. This game, Seattle wanted to prove that it wasn’t a fluke and that they have learned how to score a response goal. 19 seconds after the Duchene goal, Marcus Johansson’s breakaway turned into a goal after he passed the puck to Alex Wennberg right in front of the net to throw Saros off.

Johansson’s ability to maneuver the puck around Matt Benning’s sprawl on the ice and still get it on Wennberg’s stick was so smooth, and Wennberg’s speed in joining the rush and getting to the net front in time to receive that pass was executed perfectly. Wennberg tends to be the passer more than the scorer, but he knew exactly what his role needed to be here.

A minute and 35 seconds late, Calle Järnkrok tied the game with a revenge goal against his former team.

It was like the Kraken knew I was writing about how important puck recovery on the forecheck is. As the puck bounces off the boards, Jordan Eberle was in prime position to receive it and send it right on target for Järnkrok. So, really, it felt like a revenge goal in two ways — score against your former team and mimic the first goal against.

A minute and four seconds after that, Gourde said “I’m gonna make up for my penalty” and scored a goal to give the Kraken their first lead of the game.

It was another beautiful transition play down the ice, and the pass from Colin Blackwell was so quick, if you blink you miss it.

It was three goals in 2:39, the fastest they’ve scored three goals in their short history as a team. It was ridiculous. It was insanity. I screamed about the goals themselves then screamed about how I needed to somehow recap all this.

Oh, and what I said about how much the Kraken love a good narrative? To rally around and get those three goals, it made the score 3-2 on 3/2, our Kraken Day. I wish I was joking about this.

There is no such thing as a normal Kraken game. I think we are all on the same page about this by now, but it never hurts to reiterate it.

However, the glee was short lived. Duchene went on ahead and scored his second goal of the night and tied the game back up. Thanks for ruining the Kraken’s perfectly themed score.

A huge reason Duchene was able to score was because Chris Driedger was far out of position. Yes, he needed to be along that side in order to block the attempt by Eeli Tolvanen, but Duchene was able to then fully exploit the wide open net that was left behind. It was just an unfortunate play that deflated so much of the ecstasy of the three quick-succession goals.

Period 3

The game was all tied up going into the third, and the vibe check was that truly, it was either team’s game.

Only 2:33 into the period, Ryan Donato was called for a slashing penalty, and suddenly I began to fear for the Kraken’s lead. After all, the Predators had already had one successful power play. Why not expect another goal?

Well, expecting a goal was correct, but it wasn’t the Predators. Thank you, Colin Blackwell.

It was one, two, three whacks as Blackwell would not be denied. This is one of those “dirty” goals that truly are the result of sheer determination. Not every goal has to be the most perfect backhand or slap shot of all time. He’s always brought good energy to his game, and it’s great to see that get rewarded.

Also, the Kraken have decided that the power kill is their new thing. Why? Oh, because with this game, they have now outscored the opponent 3-2 while on the penalty kill in the past seven games. Yes, 3-2. Again. Narratives!

The Kraken nearly managed to make it a 4-2 record while on the penalty kill while Vince Dunn was in the box, but Mark Giordano didn’t manage to score on his chance.

While it would’ve been fun to see yet another shorthanded goal, the Kraken ultimately didn’t need it as they were able to defend their one-goal lead all the way to the end of the game. Their seven-game losing streak was officially snapped, and Kraken Day ended in victory. Because, again, this team loves a good narrative.

Final thoughts

Out of all the Kraken wins this season, this was probably one of the most enjoyable ones to watch. If this piece is how you’re experiencing this game for the first time, I honestly feel a little sorry, because I don’t think any amount of writing skill can properly convey how it felt to watch it.

However, not to suddenly be a downer, but this game also begs one major question: why don’t we see this version of the team more often?

Tonight’s game reminded me of so many of the earlier games in the season when the Kraken seemed to be teetering on the edge of whether they were going to suddenly click and be good or not. When they’re firing on all the right cylinders, this team can score goals, generate comebacks, defend leads, etc.

I’d love to see the Kraken have more games like this and end the season on a fun and positive note, and I do want to relish in this feeling of actually having a win again. I just have to wonder why we couldn’t have had more games like this before.

But I refuse to dwell on that much longer, so let’s all enjoy our favorite postgame tradition and yeet the fish!

Next game: Seattle Kraken vs Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena. Puck drop: 4:00 pm PT / 7:00 pm ET.