As one of the originals from Seattle’s difficult opening season, Jordan Eberle found himself joking with some of his teammates of Game 4 against the defending Stanley Cup champions of being the biggest game to date in the brief history of the Kraken.
It will forever be memorable for the Kraken. First overtime playoff game. First overtime playoff win. And an unexpectedly tied series headed back to Denver.
Eberle scored on the power play 3 minutes into overtime and the Seattle Kraken beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Monday night to even their best-of-7 series at 2-2.
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Eberle collected a deflection and buried his first goal of the playoffs past Colorado goalie Alexandar Georgiev. Seattle was on the power play after Josh Manson was called for tripping on Jaden Schwartz on a breakaway attempt in the opening moments of OT.
“We’ve been kind of the underdog from day one and we’re just trying to fight back in this series,” Eberle said. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Seattle’s first playoff overtime victory ensured there would be at least one more game played at home this season for the Kraken.
But the Kraken will be shorthanded for Game 5 after Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said leading scorer Jared McCann won’t play in Denver. McCann was injured on a questionable hit from Colorado’s Cale Makar midway through the first period.
“Late hit, really late, no puck in play. Our 40-goal scorer not available for the rest of the game and is not going to be available going forward here,” Hakstol said.
Will Borgen and Daniel Sprong scored in the first period to give Seattle a 2-0 lead. Mikko Rantanen scored twice in the second period for Colorado to pull even.
Rantanen now has five goals in four games, but the rest of Colorado’s stars were held in check.
“You knew it was going to be tougher and tougher as the series goes on. Space is going to be less available, and you have to go earn every inch of ice,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “We didn’t do a good enough job early in the hockey game taking care of our side of the ice.”
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Seattle dominated play in the offensive zone most of the night, outshooting Colorado 43-22. But after taking a 2-0 lead, the Kraken were unable to extend their advantage thanks largely to Georgiev. Colorado’s goalie made 39 saves and kept the Avalanche from getting overrun in the first period.
But in the extra session, Manson’s penalty at 1:59 provided the Kraken a chance to end their overtime debut quickly. Schwartz had his shot in front of the net blocked, but it fell to Eberle’s stick and he didn’t miss the open net after being held in check for most of the series.
“It happened fast. I can’t really remember before that but it was obviously really exciting,” Schwartz said.
Seattle goalie Philipp Grubauer made 20 saves and came through when needed in the third period with a couple of key stops to deny Colorado a comeback victory.
For the second time in the series, Seattle was unable to make a 2-0 first-period lead stand.
Rantanen scored his first on a three-on-two rush that was set up by Nathan MacKinnon. His second came in the dying seconds of Colorado’s first power play of the game, snapping a shot through a screen and past Grubauer with 2 seconds remaining on the man advantage. It was Colorado’s first power-play goal in 15 chances against Seattle, regular and postseason combined.
McCann was hurt on a short-handed attempt midway through the first period. The shot was saved by Georgiev and appeared to go into the netting behind the goal. McCann did not seem ready for the hit by Makar.
McCann was down on the ice for several minutes before being helped to the bench and headed straight back to the Seattle locker room.
Makar was originally given a 5-minute major penalty but it was reduced to a 2-minute minor.
Makar said it was “unfortunate,” and hoped McCann was OK.
“It was a hockey play. I’m assuming he was going to the corner because it was coming down. I didn’t really look. Just unfortunate how that happened,” Makar said.
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FIRST ON THE BOARD
Seattle became the second team in playoff history to score first in each of its first four games. The 1918 Toronto Arenas – precursor to the Maple Leafs – scored first in both games of the NHL final against Montreal, then got the opening goal in each of the first three games of the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Final against the Vancouver Millionaires.