A crowd of 17,151 had waited to see pre-season hockey for a long time, ending a period of nearly five months to wait before seeing an active offseason cash in.
On Monday night, Matty Beniers was money. And if there’s any indication of a pre-season opener, he’s not just ready to play. He’s also ready to take on a game-breaking role.
The 19-year-old center, who is eligible to win the Calder Trophy after getting just ten games in last year with nine points last season, scored the first goal of pre-season play while his linemate Ryan Donato chipped in with another, helping the Kraken beat the Edmonton Oilers, 3-0 at Climate Pledge Arena.
“It was huge, playing those ten games,” said Beniers. “It helps you get acclimated in the locker room, getting to know the guys in the locker room. You get to feel more comfortable.”
Beniers’ line was fantastic. The Hingham, Mass. native generated key scoring chances, put up six shots on net, and won three-of-five face-offs. Donato scored a filthy wrap-around goal in the second period, and fellow winger and newcomer Oliver Bjorkstrand nearly buried an open net chance that hit teammate Alex Wennberg.
They jumped on a center ice turnover by the Oilers in the second period for a 1-0 lead. Peetro Seppala winged a pass to Beniers, cruising down the left wing. Beniers then uncorked a sharp angled wrist shot to the upper corner of the net against starter Olivier Rodrigue, 2:12 into the second.
“(Beniers) has been skating well, really confident with the puck,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “Real positive with the things he’s doing, working, skating, and competing. I’ll put that at the top of the list.”
Though facing a large chunk of competition likely to be in AHL Bakersfield by the end of training camp, Martin Jones and Joey Daccord combined for a 28-save shutout. Jones stopped Tyler Benson on a second period breakaway and Daccord robbed Seth Griffith late in the third period to seal the game.
“Jonesy got off to a good start,” said Hakstol. “He ended with a real good save before he came out. That’s a nice way to start.”
“Joey came in and made a play on the goal, but as far as stopping the puck, he fought hard to see the puck.”
Donato was the recipient of a long bomb saucer pass by Daccord, enabling Donato to circle the net and tuck a forehand bid on backup Ryan Fanti.
Brandon Tanev also delivered a signature presence in his first game back on the ice in nine months following recovery from ACL surgery. Tanev, last season after a freak collision into the end boards last December against Edmonton, showed no signs of slowing down with a pair of hits and a shorthanded assist, feeding the wheelhouse of a Morgan Geekie one-timer for the game’s final goal just 43 seconds into the third period.
The Kraken will wrap up back-to-back games on Tuesday at home against Calgary, expected to sit Monday’s lineup while Jordan Eberle, Jared McCann, Yanni Gourde, Philipp Grubauer, and rookie Shane Wright are each expected to make their preseason debut.