Vince Dunn logged a multi-point game from the blueline while Martin Jones earned the 27th shutout of his NHL career in a 4-0 victory for the Seattle Kraken over the Montreal Canadiens, before 21,105 fans at Bell Centre on Monday.
The Kraken won their fifth in a row and now 7-2-1 in the last ten games, remained four points back of the Los Angeles Kings with both teams tightening the gap on the first place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division. The Kraken are six points back.
For the second straight game, the Kraken roared out of the gates with three goals in the first 20 minutes. Eeli Tolvanen, scoring his third goal in five games since entering the Kraken lineup, opened the scoring 6:54 into the game. Daniel Sprong hammered a power play goal from the left circle for a 2-0 lead at 10:01, and Vince Dunn’s blast, skipping through traffic, beat Sam Montembeault for a three-goal lead in the first 14 minutes.
“We had a great start to the game,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol.
“It’s always going to be a grind, when you come out of the first period that way – you know there’s always going to be a push from the other side. But we did a good job finishing and closing out the game.”
Matty Beniers added an empty netter with 1:03 left, extending his goal scoring streak to four straight games.
Jones made 21 stops, earning a win in every game since New Year’s Day. Montembeault took the loss on 37 saves.
1. First periods bring out the best this season. It’s an obvious element that fuels victory, but a necessary element, and indicative of how strong the Kraken are playing on the road. For the second straight game, they raced out of the gates with a three-goal first period, forcing the home side to chase them. It was a race too fast for Ottawa to catch on Saturday, and a race too fast for Montreal to catch on Monday. The Kraken are 16-2-2 when scoring the first goal of the game and did so again for the third straight game on the road.
2. Yanni Gourde’s line was due to be a hometown, headline attraction. And did not disappoint. Back in Montreal facing a team he grew up watching (who is coached by a player he grew up watching in Martin St. Louis), Yanni Gourde spoke on the growing identity of his line with Eeli Tolvanen and Oliver Bjorkstrand. They had the opening face-off honors (Gourde’s homecoming, of course), and chipped in on two of three Kraken goals in the first period, where they made most of their impact. Taking this (to some degree) tongue in cheek, Tolvanen is on pace for a near 30-goal season: taking only into account the games he’s played since arriving from Nashville by waivers. Gourde won eight-of-14 draws. The line in total commanded a 15-6 advantage in shot attempts (per naturalstattrick.com).
3. Martin Jones with another game demonstrating ridiculous value. Remember when general manager Ron Francis signed Jones out of free agency on a one-year deal? That’s turned into 19 wins (3rd in the NHL), a pair of shutouts, and a .934 save percentage during this entire five-game win streak. As the Kraken are a show that stars the “sum of all parts,” that’s inclusive of a four-line monster that can score at will, a power play turning the corner, and Jones’ revelation of goaltending to spell Philipp Grubauer, who is now healthy (and likely gets his next turn on Tuesday in Buffalo). When all parts are going, the Kraken are at their best. They are 7-2-1 in the last ten games.
Currently in a stretch of 17 games in 31 games and with Jones playing in 29 of 39 games this year, they will need both goaltenders to be at their best. Monday took another huge step in the direction of postseason contention.
The Kraken will visit the Sabres, who were shut out themselves 4-0 by Philadelphia on Monday, at KeyBank Center on Tuesday at 4pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network).
KRAKEN AT MONTREAL LINEUP, JAN. 9: