The emotional charge of seeing their top scorer felled by a forearmed shot behind the action from their opponent’s star defenseman seemed to catapult the already surging Kraken to an entirely different level of play.
Jared McCann lying on the Climate Pledge Arena ice for several minutes Monday night after a shove and head slam off the glass by Norris Trophy winner Cale Makar provoked an aggressive anger rarely seen in the Kraken as they nearly ran the visiting Colorado Avalanche out of the rink. But as they have throughout the series, the Avalanche fought back to force overtime — where Jordan Eberle notched the 3-2 winner for the Kraken in sudden death to even the series and send the crowd into a frenzy the likes of which were not previously seen at any prior home games.
With the Kraken on an early overtime power play, Eberle slid a pass to Schwartz, whose goal mouth attempt was blocked. But the puck came back to Eberle, who wristed it behind Alexandar Georgiev at the three-minute mark of sudden death.
Elated Kraken players poured on to the ice for an emotional, signature franchise moment that evens the series 2-2 with Game 5 back in Colorado on Wednesday night.
Schwartz appeared to put the Kraken ahead with nine minutes to go in regulation, with the puck clearly crossing the line off a goal mouth scramble. But after video review, it was ruled the whistle had gone before the puck crossed the line.
His team would amass a franchise record 51 hits and outshoot the visitors 39-21 in regulation.
Schwartz then got in alone early in overtime, but was tripped from behind by Josh Manson as he got the shot off — leading to the decisive power play.
The Kraken appeared in firm command of this one early on, leading by two on a pair of first period goals by Will Borgen and then a power play strike by Daniel Sprong after Makar was assessed a minor penalty for interference on his McCann hit. McCann didn’t return to action after being helped off the ice and Makar — who was initially assessed a five minute major penalty quickly downgraded with no explanation by on-ice officials — was roundly booed by the crowd of 17,151 whenever he touched the puck the rest of the game.
But the Avalanche aren’t defending Stanley Cup champions for nothing and finally made a game of it with two Mikko Rantanen goals the final six minutes of the second period. The first came off an odd-man rush in which a puck slid by Kraken forward Alex Wennberg right on to Rantanen’s stick for a one-timed blast behind Philipp Grubauer.
Then, a late penalty call on the Kraken was followed by a ferocious Avalanche push that led to Colorado’s first power play goal of the series with just 50 seconds to go in the middle frame.
All of a sudden, despite the Kraken holding a 30-14 edge in shots, the game was tied 2-2 heading to intermission and the home side’s ability to get back in this series was looking seriously compromised.
For the fourth straight game, the Kraken had come out flying and took an early lead as Borgen fired a slap shot behind Georgiev just under four minutes into the contest. They’d heeded the call of Yanni Gourde and were taking a physical game to the Avalanche early on, outshooting them 11-2 before the game was even seven minutes old.
But that fiery play was nothing compared to what would transpire after McCann was sent in alone and stopped on a breakaway by Georgiev. As McCann skated away to the corner with the puck up ice, Makar, who was right beside him, gave him a forearm shove to his upper body that sent McCann into the glass — with his head the first point of contact — and crumpling to the ice.
The crowd erupted in anger. No penalty was initially called as McCann lay on the ice in a heap. Finally, after converging and a discussion with off-ice officials monitoring the game, a five-minute major was assessed.
Then, seconds later, after that call was downgraded, the crowd’s anger intensified with abuse hurled downward toward the officials. The Kraken, seemingly just as upset, took their anger out on the Avalanche, hitting them at every turn and engaging in skirmishes with each stoppage in play.
Sprong’s pinpoint wrist shot goal — the second Kraken power play marker this series — that picked the top corner for a 2-0 lead only seemed to further fuel the Kraken’s anger. They ran the Colorado players over and over again as the crowd roared and the Avalanche looked like a team just trying to escape the period alive.
That they did, down just two. And though the Kraken maintained the second period pressure — outshooting the Avs 12-6 — Colorado managed to ratchet the intensity down just a notch overall. That would pay off big, as it had in Games 2 and 3 when they overcame an early Kraken lead for the third straight contest to set up a tie heading into the final frame.