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3 takeaways from Knights’ loss: Moment missed in Winter Classic

Updated January 1, 2024 - 5:05 pm

SEATTLE — The stands were packed, the breeze was light, the temperature was cool but not too cold when play began at the Winter Classic on Monday at T-Mobile Park.

The Golden Knights couldn’t have asked for a better backdrop for their New Year’s Day game against the Seattle Kraken. The ballpark’s retractable roof was open, and the announced crowd of 47,313 filled the upper reaches of the third deck.

The lone disappointment was the Knights’ performance.

Goaltender Joey Daccord posted the first shutout in Winter Classic history to give the Kraken a 3-0 victory in the 15th edition of the NHL’s annual outdoor event.

The Knights, after ending 2023 on a 1-4 skid, started 2024 with another loss while being shut out for the fourth time this season.

“I thought we’d be better,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We just didn’t have the urgency required early on. By the time we got to it, we’re chasing the game, which has happened to us lately. A little disappointed in that. We want better out of the gate.”

Seattle showed out for the marquee event of the NHL’s regular season.

The decorations around the Seattle Mariners’ home were spectacular, from the shipwreck in center field to the 6,500 square feet of wooden docks the players walked across from the dugout to the rink.

The energy in the building was palpable throughout. Fans filled the seats on a crisp day that started foggy before the skies cleared up. Temperature at puck drop was 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Kraken were the stronger team. They were scrappy, winning races and battles for loose pucks all over the ice.

Seattle took the lead 4:50 into the game on a goal from left wing Eeli Tolvanen. He tipped a point shot from defenseman Vince Dunn 8 feet in front of the net.

Defenseman Will Borgen stretched the advantage to 2-0 with a slap shot 2:19 into the second. He pounced on a rebound and fired the puck past goaltender Logan Thompson from 44 feet out.

Center Yanni Gourde dashed any hopes of a Knights’ comeback 2:10 into the third. He stole the puck from left wing Paul Cotter and then followed his own rebound to put Seattle ahead 3-0.

The Knights never came up with a response.

The largest culprit was Daccord, who was sensational while making 35 saves. He made two point-blank stops on center Jack Eichel in the first and third period. Both times Kraken fans responded by serenading him with “Jo-ey” chants.

“We had our chances,” captain Mark Stone said. “Didn’t capitalize. It just wasn’t our day.”

It was the latest in a series of recent setbacks for the Knights. The defending Stanley Cup champions lost in regulation for the sixth time in their past eight games.

They also fell to 0-2 outdoors. The Knights lost 3-2 to the Colorado Avalanche at Edgewood Tahoe Resort Golf Course on Feb. 20, 2021, in Stateline.

The Kraken, on the other hand, set a franchise record by extending their point streak to nine games (7-0-2).

“Yesterday with the family (skate) and stuff, that was super nice, but we’ll always remember that game as losers, right?” right wing Jonathan Marchessault said. “It’s really disappointing for our group, and we know we’re a good team, but right now, we’re not playing our best hockey all together. We’ve got to find a way to get more consistency.”

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1. Kraken fight back

The NHL’s 32nd franchise, at least for one day, turned the tables on the 31st.

The league’s two newest expansion teams have had a one-sided rivalry the past three seasons. The Knights entered Monday with an 8-1 all-time record against the Kraken, their second-best against any opponent. They’re 10-1 against Ottawa.

Seattle got its second win in the series in yet another high-profile clash between the sides. They met on national TV on opening day of the 2021-22 season and this one.

2. Lineup changes

The Knights made two tweaks to their lineup.

Left wing William Carrier returned from an undisclosed injury to play his first game since Dec. 21. Left wing Pavel Dorofeyev was a healthy scratch as a result.

Defenseman Brayden Pachal played his first game since Dec. 15. He took the spot of defenseman Ben Hutton, who suffered an upper-body injury in Thursday’s 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings.

3. Shutout stats

The Knights are on their way to making the wrong kind of team history.

They’ve been shut out four times in their first 38 games. That puts them on pace to break the franchise record for most in a season.

The Knights were shut out seven times in the 2021-22 campaign, the only time in team history they missed the playoffs.

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

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