A "comfortable" Shane Wright helped lead the way in a win at San Jose

Seattle Kraken v San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 01: Shane Wright #51 is congratulated by Jordan Eberle #7 of the Seattle Kraken after he scored against the San Jose Sharks in the first period at SAP Center on April 01, 2024 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)Photo: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

The first period told the tale of a long road ahead with youth blossoming into promising talent. 

Matty Beniers scored for the third time in four games, while call-up Shane Wright, in his first NHL game since November, earned the eventual game winner in a 4-2 victory for the Seattle Kraken over the San Jose Sharks on Monday, before 11,559 at SAP Center at San Jose. 

No issues arrived from previous haunting visits to Northern California, where the Kraken had already lost three times, including a 2-0 whisper in the final game before the All-Star break. The playoffs may be out of reach, but future stars painted a rosy picture to get the offense going. 

“We've had a couple of nights where we've had trouble scoring in here,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “So that's good, that was a good way to get off to a good, positive start. We evaluate everything, you know in a two way sense.” 

Hakstol said the production offset a few long shifts where the Kraken were caught on the ice, preventing line changes. But beyond the shadow of a doubt, youth was served on Monday night. While it came against the lowly Sharks, who will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season, it was the familiar snap of Beniers’ game that put the Kraken up 1-0 on a blast from the left circle past Mackenzie Blackwood, then Wright ferociously driving the net to accept Jordan Eberle’s centering attempt at a 3-1 advantage, putting the game out of reach before the end of the first period. The assist marked Eberle’s 700th career point in the NHL. 

“It was nice to see ‘Wrighter’ get the game winner,” said Hakstol. 

There was no stashing Wright with limited minutes, grouped with veterans Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle. 

“They had a bunch of good offensive opportunities,” said Hakstol. “’Wrighter’ was comfortable in the defensive zone. We used him very comfortably on some of the D zone draws. And he you know he dug in and he did a good job there.” 

Tye Kartye nearly put the Kraken up 2-0 in the first period but a snap shot goal was overtuned for offside, after a coach’s challenge by the Sharks’ David Quinn. Oliver Bjorkstrand buried his 20th of the season from the right circle to negate the situation, and Wright answered Fabian Zetterlund’s power play blast with 5:41 left for San Jose. 

Klim Kostin deflected Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s point shot past Philipp Grubauer for the only goal in the second period, but the Sharks would be heard from no further. Jared McCann tucked away his 28th goal of the season on an empty netter in the final seconds. 

Grubauer turned in 24 saves, while Blackwood took the loss on 28 stops. 

Moments that mattered: 

1.        Matty Beniers’ game opening goal: Mackenzie Blackwood stared down the Kraken again, who was responsible for the shutout of Seattle in January. This time, the Kraken made quick work of Blackwood, and Beniers’ goal set the tone, putting the Sharks back on their collective heels. 

Beniers has scored in three of the last four games, which should come with a sliver of caution against lottery teams such as Anaheim and San Jose, but the Kraken could use a return to form by the end of the season before he prepares for a big summer, which will be restricted free agency. 

2.        Shane Wright’s return: You could make a valid argument he was one of the best player on the ice. While his impressive night came against an eliminated team from the playoffs, there was no hiding him on the bench. Wright played in 15:14 of ice time, sixth most among Kraken forwards. He was the most deployed center at the face-off circle, and won 50 percent of his draws (9-of-18). Most importantly, he commanded the puck with confidence, and was often seen lurking around the net for scoring chances. 

“I definitely felt comfortable out there for sure,” said Wright. “I felt like I belonged out there. Playing with (Schwartz) and (Eberle) too, it’s easy playing with two guys like that.” 

His line generated a 21-8 advantage in shot attempts at five-on-five play, and seven high-danger scoring opportunities, most of any line (according to nautualstattrick.com). His time in Coachella Valley has been valuable, where he has cracked 20 goals, demonstrating signs of a long-term fit in the NHL. 

3.        The third period:  Brandon Tanev’s late second period penalty could have been a back-breaking turning point. Nothing came out of it, and the Kraken penalty kill took care of the job. Philipp Grubauer only had to make six saves in the third period, a low-labor night where he stopped 24 in total, while the Kraken defense allowed only two high-grade chances at five-on-five in the final frame, before Jared McCann followed up his own rebound by putting the game away. 

The Kraken earned their lead, tightened the screws, and reinforced ultimate protection to close out San Jose for the second time in three matchups this season. 

The Kraken will visit the Los Angeles Kings in the second game of the trip on Wednesday, 6:30pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) at Crypto.com Arena. 

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