A trap opponent’s net As if ever someone tiptoeed into the Climate Pledge Arena looking to lure the Kraken into its own overconfident trap.
The once-proud Buffalo Sabers franchise, having fallen on hard times over the past decade and trading former star captain Jack Eichel before Thursday night’s clash, has recently been a more formidable early-season foe than his reputation. Thus, Kraken, emerging with a 5–2 victory in this one, not only provided the necessary two points, given the franchise’s first hat-trick courtesy of Jordan Eberle, but also provided Eberle’s group their first test of not getting the rope. Helped to survive – doped at home by an undeclared opponent.
Eberle scored 1:50 in the final period, taking a good feed from Alex Weinberg, braising by a defender and shifting the puck behind netminder Dustin Tokarski before flipping the puck into his forehand. It was Eberle’s second of the night and he was cascading off the baseball cap from the stands seven minutes later, scoring a delayed slap through Tokarski’s legs for his third goal the netminder undoubtedly wanted back but which the Kraken would surely keep. .
Jaden Schwartz capped the night on four points with an empty net goal after Tokarski was drawn late for an extra attacker.
In fact, it might not have ended well if Kraken had displayed any less energy in front of another sell-out crowd of 17,151 things. He took the Sabers 38-21 on aggregate, but still found himself at a stalemate in the third round as he struggled to finish the chances.
As in, they were only due for an Eberle goal at the end of the middle frame, which came 26 seconds after Kyle Okopso put the visitors 2-1 on a screenshot screened through traffic. Eberle was well positioned in the bottom of the right faceoff circle as Jaden Schwartz pulled the puck from a scrum in the back of the net for a one-off shot.
The Kraken looked far more energetic and dominant during the first period than they had in their previous homestand and Monday night loss to Edmonton. He moved the puck with increased efficiency as the period passed and struck just after the end of a power play when Morgan Geeky took a cross-ice pass from Weinberg and struck Tokarski once for a 1–0 lead. thrown out of the house. 15:42 points.
Former Spokane Chiefs netminder Tokarski kept the Sabers in a no-scoring game, stopped Kraken’s leading goalscorer Brandon Tanev on the breakaway, and then blocked Jamie Oleksiak afterward. The Kraken players had five breakaways on the night, but failed to score on any of them, while not connecting on three more powerplay occasions to run their recent drought 0-for-21.
Nevertheless, goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer made the necessary stops and Eberle’s late scoring touch proved sufficient.
An earlier generation of hockey fans may remember the French Connection Line version of the Sabers, where Gilbert Perrault, Rick Martin and René Robert dazzled fans into the night and led Buffalo to their first Stanley Cup final in 1975. Alas, apart from a few strong playoff teams backstopped in the 1980s by goaltender Don Edwards and later a young upstart Tom Barrasso, the Sabers didn’t reach the finals again until 1999 under coach Lindy Ruff.
But it has since been slim pickings, amplified by a decade of drafting futility and misfortune, capped by a showdown with future franchise star Eichel.
Buffalo seems to have done better at dumping Eichel in Vegas early Thursday after a standoff with their 25-year-old star and former No. 2 overall pick from 2015. Eichel was stripped of his captaincy over how to handle a brawl. Herniated disc in his neck.
Eichel’s camp wanted artificial disc replacement surgery—which no NHL player has ever had—while his team, which has a final say under a collective bargaining agreement, wanted a different procedure.
Now, they have split and the seemingly endless Sabers are on the next stage of a rebuilding plan that will include trade returns from former first rounders Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs, a first-round pick next year and a third-rounder in 2023.
None of those pieces came into play on Thursday. Buffalo entered the game astonishing 5-3-1 and actually made a dent in what was to be an even more surprising start to the season after two losses in a row.
In the most recent defeat, to lowly San Jose, Sabers coach Don Granato – also known as Kraken Pro Scout and brother of Hall of Famer Cammy Granato – spoke about the need for his team to stay aggressive throughout the game. said aloud.
Kraken got the same message from coach Dave Huxtall. His players seem to have gotten it and Eberle provided enough finishes to prevent the resulting chances from being wasted.