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3 takeaways from Knights’ loss: Kraken come out swinging

Updated November 25, 2022 - 9:11 pm

Jordan Eberle didn’t give up on the play when defenseman Alec Martinez tried to stop him Friday.

He didn’t quit when center Nicolas Roy attempted to catch him from behind. And the Seattle Kraken right wing kept going when goaltender Adin Hill made an incredible desperation save on his shot.

Eberle picked up his own rebound and scored to put his team ahead 4-2 with 1:14 left in the second period. It was the perfect example of the hustle and determination the Kraken showed all night.

Seattle, 0-5-0 against its expansion rivals entering Friday, fought back for the first time with a 4-2 victory against the Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena in front of an announced crowd of 18,119.

The Knights (16-5-1) didn’t match their opponent’s intensity and paid for it.

“They were just the better team, I think,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Let’s call it what it is. From start to finish, they outplayed us.”

Seattle started its NHL life in the Knights’ shadow.

The Kraken couldn’t measure up to what their predecessors had done with the same expansion rules. They posted the league’s third-worst record last season, while the Knights went to the Stanley Cup Final their first year.

The difference between the two sides were even more stark when they played. The Knights won the first five matchups by a combined score of 21-9, the latest one being a 5-2 victory in Seattle on Oct. 15.

The Kraken (12-5-3) appeared eager to show this game would be different.

Seattle led 2-0 eight minutes into the game behind goals from left wing Ryan Donato and right wing Andre Burakovsky.

The Knights responded with goals from Roy and right wing Phil Kessel to tie the game heading into the first intermission, but the Kraken kept coming.

Burakovsky scored again 5:20 into the second period to put Seattle up 3-2. Eberle increased the advantage. The Knights couldn’t fight back a second time. They finished with 22 shots on goal, tied for their third-fewest in a game this season, and drew only one penalty.

The win moved second-place Seattle six points behind the Knights in the Pacific Division standings with two games in hand.

The Kraken are “a fast team that put some pressure on us,” captain Mark Stone said. “We just didn’t take it on very well.”

The Knights don’t have a lot of time to correct things. They host Vancouver at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1. Forward blender

The Knights’ sluggish start left Cassidy searching for answers.

He briefly mixed up his forward lines in the first period, moving left wing Paul Cotter to the first line and Kessel to the second. The changes did cause some players to sit more than expected.

Right wing Jonathan Marchessault and left wing Chandler Stephenson, two of the Knights’ top six forwards, were third- and fourth-to-last in ice time in the first period. Cassidy switched the lines back to normal to start the second.

“I was looking for something to get the guys’ attention,” said Cassidy, who added he didn’t believe some of the Knights’ wings were competing hard enough on breakouts.

2. Hill’s night

Hill will be happy when the calendar flips to December.

He’s struggled this month, even though it began with him winning his fifth straight game. Hill, after allowing four goals on 28 shots against Seattle, is 1-2-1 in November with 15 goals allowed and an .864 save percentage.

He also didn’t receive much help from his defense Friday. The Kraken’s 57 shot attempts at five-on-five were tied for the fourth-most the Knights have allowed in a game this season, according to the website Natural Stat Trick.

“Adin, it fell on him to make probably more saves than he should have to because we didn’t score enough,” Cassidy said.

3. Center swap

Roy, who said he felt “pretty good,” returned Friday, but the Knights were down another player.

Center Brett Howden missed the game with a lower-body injury. Howden was the Knights’ seventh non-healthy scratch of the season, after Roy missed three games, right wing Keegan Kolesar sat out two and left wing William Carrier missed one.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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