Since the first Kraken win two weeks ago, they have struggled to expand leads in the third period.
They solved that on Tuesday night in a 5-1 win over the Canadiens. Against the iron of the league on Thursday, the Minnesota Wild, Seattle survived another third period to pull out a 4-1 win.
The effort was powered by an unlikely source but a growing threat.
Haydn Fleury’s offensive game seemed to elevate on Tuesday night against the Canadiens when he posted four shots on goal, and offense coming from the blue line has quickly become a defining characteristic for the Kraken.
On Thursday, it was a wild result for Fleury against the Wild, securing his first career two-goal game. Those two goals powered the Kraken, who saw another concerning third period nearly cost them.
Thursday’s third period differed from the others where the Kraken didn’t extend a one-goal advantage. In Nashville, they got just a single shot and eked out a win. In Columbus, they lost the one-goal lead in overtime with a jittery defensive effort. In the opener against Vancouver, a couple of mistakes and a couple of bounces was all it took to surrender the lead for a regulation loss.
This time, the Kraken stayed aggressive, outshooting the Wild 37-29 and earning their highest overall shot total of the season.
Minnesota entered as the highest-quantity shooting team in the league, averaging a league-high 36.3 shots per game.
The Kraken saw that early; the Wild already had eight shots on goal less than seven minutes into the first period. By the end of the frame, though, the Kraken had outpaced them.
Before the Kraken caught up to the Wild’s pace, it found itself playing from behind again.
Minnesota’s Ryan Hartman was open between the circles without much resistance, and took a backhand pass from Kirill Kaprizov behind the net and beat Philipp Grubauer to go ahead 1-0. Just over 10 seconds later, the Kraken found itself in familiar territory; this time, with a better result.
Hartman would have notched his second tally of the game, but the officials determined he kicked the puck in the net. In the first game of the season in Vegas, the Kraken didn’t have as fortunate a result.
Avoiding what could have been a disastrous start, the Kraken took advantage of its new life.
In Tuesday’s game against Montreal, Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak crashed the net, something blue liners don’t often do. It paid off on Brandon Tanev’s goal; in a similar play against the Wild, Oleksiak went toward the net, but Jaden Schwartz’s pass missed the mark and bounced off the boards.
It just so happened to find Fleury with room above the high slot, and he didn’t hesitate firing it in on Wild goalie Cam Talbot, tying the game 1-1 13:23 into the opening period.
Minnesota opened with a quick pace and until the kicked goal called back, it seemed like the Kraken couldn’t gain possession. Seattle attempted to match that pace later, and ended up controlling the puck for the majority of the second half of the opening frame.
Joonas Donskoi took a high stick that drew blood with five seconds left in the first period to give the Kraken a four minute power play.
They didn’t score on that power play, but the four minutes allowed them to set an offensive pace with four shots on Talbot. The Kraken outshot the Wild 10-3 midway through the second, and at some point, the quantity paid off.
With 7:33 past in the second, Fleury had an opening to shoot right above the left circle. Instead, he skated around the net and had a wraparound go through, giving Seattle its first lead of the game.
Grubauer made a key stop in the closing moments of the second, stopping Kaprizov, who stripped Yanni Gourde of the puck at the Minnesota offensive blue line to preserve the one-goal lead going into the third.
Brandon Tanev put all anxieties to rest with a minute left in the third period to put the Kraken ahead 3-1, then Mark Giordano added another to end it.
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