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Cryptid Rivalry Gets Kraken— Devils Take the Historic First Meeting 4-2

The Devils take the game, but lose Jack Hughes, and may have kick started a new rivalry in the process.

NHL: Seattle Kraken at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Lucky enough for us, the Seattle Kraken were able to get an extra set of hands into their lineup just in time for tonight’s game: Yanni Gourde, who wasn’t expected back for another month following shoulder surgery, but hurried back just in time to contribute to their game against us. Fortunately, he didn’t contribute too much to the scoresheet.

First Period

We started off the game nice and feisty, with Michael McLeod dropping the gloves against Chris Tanev. Tanev came up slightly high on McLeod and he took offense to it, although neither is a big fighter so nothing much happened besides getting the crowd riled up.

Johnsson digs the puck loose and gets it to Ryan Graves. Graves rips a long pass up the ice to Tomas Tatar, who finds himself on a 2 on 1 with Dawson Mercer. He sauces a beautiful pass over the diving stick of Jamie Oleksiak to Mercer, who winds up and does not miss an inch of the puck, or the net. Mercer roofs it for his first NHL goal, putting the Devils up 1-0 early in the first period.

Only a minute later, welcome back Damon Severson. The Devils enter the zone and set up while Severson and Graves play a little catch at the blue line. Jack Hughes circles back to pick up the puck, dangling around a little bit while the defensemen collapse down towards the net. Hughes puts it on net and Severson finds it, putting it home past Joey Daccord. 2-0 Devils!

The Devils do not look prepared to ease off the gas any time soon. Halfway through the period and the Devils have 85% of the shot attempts, with 12 to the Kraken’s 2.

The Kraken get their first serious zone time with 8 minutes left in the first, but it amounts to little threat and not even a shot besides a slapper ripped well wide of the net from former Devil Adam Larsson.

The Bratt Hischier Zacha line is using their speed with absolutely lethal precision tonight. They are creating odd man rush after rush, with the Kraken defense just barely hanging on with them each time.

Former Islander Jordan Eberle tries to get something going for Seattle, picking up loose puck off a blocked shot in the neutral zone for a breakaway, but Bernier easily snuffs out his attempt to stuff the puck under his pads.

To make things a little more interesting, Colton White picks up a holding call chasing a Kraken behind the net, so we’ll see the penalty kill unit of Graves, Severson, Hischier, and Sharangovitch go to work. Graves wiffs on the clear, allowing the Kraken to set up in the zone. Giordano gets a shot off that misses the net. They recollect and set up again, repeat another Giordano shot that is blocked by Hishier, and try again. Gio gets one more shot, again a big block by Hischier, and the Devils are able to clear and change. McLeod comes on with Johnsson, Hamilton, and Siegenthaler to finish the kill off without much drama.

Seattle tries to make things interesting in front of Bernier after the penalty dies but it is handled and the Devils move back towards the other end. Jack Hughes handles the puck down the boards but is utterly crushed by Jeremy Lauzon, causing a scrum as Hughes curls up on the ice.

Hughes heads down the tunnel grasping his shoulder/collar area and appearing very upset about it. He does not return for the remainder of the game. Seattle immediately follows that play with Adam Larsson cross checking Geertsen from behind, sending the Devils back to their special teams again, this time on the power play.

Bratt and Hamilton start it off by playing catch before feeding Zacha for a wrist shot. Rinse and repeat but Zacha just misses the net a second time. Back to Bratt at the half wall, he feeds Nico Hischier in the slot who taps the puck over the goal line, unfortunately with just under 0.1 seconds left on the clock, so the goal won’t count. We will go to the first intermission up only 2-0, and with a minute of power play time left to work with when we return to the ice.

Second Period

The Devils aren’t able to make anything more of the remainder of the power play to start the second period. Seattle is trying to get something going, causing an odd man rush but the shot is deflected wide.

Mason Geertsen finally finds his man and takes on Jeremy Lauzon, though they are inexplicably tied up by the linesmen the entire time the punches are flying. Severson and Giordano start to get physical as soon as Geertsen is peeled off Lauzon, though they don’t do anything rough enough to warrant additional seats in the penalty boxes.

Hischier runs in with the puck along the boards and finds Bratt racing into the slot, who rips a one timer but its off the heel of his stick and catches the post before being poked away.

Severson and McLeod find themselves in a 2 on 0 low in on Daccord but Severson’s shot is blocked away.

Mercer picks up the puck behind the goal line and finds Tatar in front of the net. Tatar dangles and nearly pulls Daccord completely out of position but he just manages to get a pad over to stop the shot. Back down the other way and the Kraken swarm the net with Jordan Eberle on the doorstep, but Bernier scoops the puck into his pads and clings tight as the bodies pile up in the crease, keeping the Devils lead at two.

Sharangovitch trips up Appleton by accident, so we’ll go back to the penalty kill here with just 6 minutes gone in the 2nd period. Hischier, McLeod, Severson and Siegenthaler start it off, though McLeod changes for Zacha just seconds after the faceoff. Yanni Gourde makes things tough for the PK unit, nearly feeding the Krakens first goal into the slot, but Siegenthaler takes the pass away for a huge save. The Devils are scrambling to get control of the puck in the final seconds of the kill, Hamilton nearly taking off for a breakaway but McLeod just gets his stick up in the hands and we’ll go back to another kill for hooking.

The Kraken are able to set up the cycle, but the Devils box stays strong and keeps the puck to the outside. A Giordano shot goes wide and Sharangovitch gets a clear that sends Siegenthaler loose. Sharangovitch tries to keep up to make it a 2 on 1 but the pass goes awry and bounces straight to the Seattle netminder. Morgan Geekie brings it back down to the Devils end and it looks like its going to be a dangerous opportunity but he comes in just offside and stops play.

The penalty winds down but the 4 minutes of onslaught did their damage. Riley Sheahan gest the puck on a lucky bounce and puts it right under the crossbar on Bernier. And way over a diving PK Subban who face planted on the ice in some version of what was supposed to be a defensive play. Seattle is on the board, 2-1.

Johnsson picks up the puck and carries it down into the Kraken zone, but is tripped up by Soucy, sparking more discontent from both teams, and a power play for the Devils. We seem to struggle to get it set up, taking more than 40 seconds before we are able to get a shot off, and 60 before we get set up in the Kraken zone. Not much gets done before the Devils are forced offsides, and nothing else comes of the opportunity.

Back to 5 on 5 and the Devils get their setup back. Colton White takes a shot that is blocked. Johnsson picks it up and drops it back to Severson, who returns it to White at the other point. White sends it back to Johnsson across the ice, who feeds a pass into the slot to Jimmy Vesey, who redirects it past Daccord to put the Devils back up by 2! And giving defenseman Colton White his first ever NHL point with the secondary assist.

Play resumes and Tatar strips Jamie Oleksiak beautifully in the neutral zone, turning play around and back into the Seattle end, which Daccord snuffs out quickly and we scrum behind the net yet again.

Back down the other way come the Kraken. Alexander Wennberg walks in with Colton White backing up, snaps a shot around White and far side past Bernier. Suddenly it is 3-2. Lindy Ruff challenges for offsides, however, and he sure is right, so the goal is quickly overturned and we can all take a sigh of relief and continue to enjoy our two goal lead. Still 3-1 Devils.

Siegenthaler hits Morgan Geekie a bit high and Donato takes exception, so we see immediate NHL justice as the two scrap down in the Devils zone. Neither are particularly fighters so it ends quickly and without excitement. The Devils end up with a power play out of it for Donato’s instigating penalty.

The powerplay flounders early, but the Devils return to the zone quickly. Hischier feeds Sharangovitch in the slot but he flubs the one timer. Subban gets the next opportunity to shoot, but his stick breaks on the attempt. Johnsson battles the puck to the net to kill time and get the stoppage. Sharangovitch gets a great look as the puck crosses the goal line in the final seconds of the power play but it passes through cleanly and both the powerplay and the period end without further incident.

Third Period

The third period starts off painfully slow, with nothing more exciting happening than offsides and icings for the first ten minutes. Andreas Johnsson tries to get something going by carrying the puck and cutting into the middle, but he trips over the defender and the puck bounces out to the neutral zone.

Soucy gets a shot off from the top of the zone on Bernier, but he makes the save easily.

Kuokkanen makes things spicy and tries to feed Vesey for his second of the night, but Giordano gets in the way.

Giordano later gives the puck up to Vesey directly in front of the net, but Daccord just gets a piece of the shot with his shoulder.

The Devils decide to make things a little more interesting with a slashing call to Pavel Zacha. The delayed call let the Kraken pull Daccord, but the Devils are able to touch up. The Kraken call a time out to draw up their plan.

The penalty kill rolls out with Hischier, Siegenthaler, McLeod, and Severson. Just seconds into the penalty, Severson gets a tripping call, sending the Devils to a 3 on 5 for nearly two full minutes.

Hischier sends out their first two full clears before the Kraken are able to set up. Hischier blocks a shot from Giordano. McCann picks up the puck, walks around until he can use Siegenthaler as a screen, and sends the puck past Bernier to put the Kraken within 1. 3-2 now with just over 4 minutes left in the game.

Hamilton gets a clear that is chased by Hischier, who hounds it to kill another full 30 seconds before the Kraken come back to the zone. McLeod comes away with the puck and brings it back down to the Kraken end. Subban takes a pass and immediately bombs it into the breadbasket of Daccord, who freezes the play. Tatar loses the faceoff but the Devils manage to get a hold of the puck anyway to kill a little time.

Seattle pulls Daccord with 90 seconds left in the game. The battle continues until just over 20 seconds left when Hischier and Giordano take each other out, opening the ice for McLeod to pull away with the puck. He finds himself on a 2 on 1 with Zacha, who gets the pass and does not miss the net to put away the game with an empty net goal.

The Game Stats: The NHL.com Game Summary | The NHL.com Event Summary | The NHL.com Play by Play Log | The NHL.com Shot Summary | The Natural Stat Trick Game Stats

The Highlights:

There is going to be controversy about the Jack Hughes hit, so I will add my take to it now before we get started: it wasn’t a dirty hit. It’s incredibly unfortunate and it doesn’t look good, but nothing about the hit makes it dirty. There is no slew foot, it isn’t high, Jack just doesn’t take it well. Hopefully he will be fine and come back soon.

The Pros and Cons:

Andreas Johnsson impressed me tonight, which is something I will honestly say I have never expected to say. He was working hard, making smart plays, good passes, and overall making a positive impact on the game, even making it on paper with an assist on Vesey’s goal.

Overall it was a tough game for special teams. The powerplay went 0/3, the penalty kill nearly gave up the game with the double penalty situation that allowed Seattle’s first goal just after the penalties expired, and then again in the final minutes of the third period. They did technically kill 4/5 penalties, but they weren’t very clean kills, they got sloppy and caused more problems for themselves and they seemed lucky to make it out of the ones they did survive. The power play also wasn’t great, but the loss of the main playmaking center will do that unfortunately. It took them much longer to get going than it should have, if they got settled at all, but once they did they looked okay so I will give them that.

Bernier has been looking solid so far this season and really kept us in this game, although I do have to mention the goal that was waived off due to offsides was not a great play on his part. He was out of position and really had no excuse for not making that save. He got lucky, and really owes the Devils’ video review team a pizza.

Nico Hischier is so consistently fantastic he tends to get overlooked, so let me give him some love for a minute. He finished with the top CF% on the team at 65%, limiting actual shots to just 3 compared to his line’s 8. That whole line continues to look excellent, creating havoc for Seattle tonight whether they have control of the puck and are setting up their cycle in the zone, out-racing the defensemen to a loose puck, or just harassing them on the forecheck. Zacha netting the empty netter to seal the deal was just the icing on the cake for that trio.