Flames extinguish Kraken's chances to sit alone in Pacific Division lead
Published in Hockey
SEATTLE — One of the few memorable Seattle Kraken highlights of this game came when notoriously short-fused defenseman Will Borgen drew first-period applause for one-handedly throwing a pesky opposing forward to the ice.
Unfortunately for Borgen and his outskated, out-hustled teammates on Friday night, his one-armed banditry would also be the final time his team was in an even game. The visiting Calgary Flames would get a go-ahead Tyler Toffoli goal just a minute later, then another by Nikita Zadorov five seconds before period’s end to hand the Kraken a 5-2 loss and deny them a spot all alone in the Pacific Division lead.
Instead, the Los Angeles Kings lead the Kraken and Vegas Golden Knights by a point, leapfrogging both with an earlier win Friday. The Kraken still have three games in-hand on the Kings, though their record fell to 28-15-5 after Calgary handed them their first regulation defeat in 10 days.
The Kraken woke up a bit in the final frame and Eeli Tolvanen got them back within a goal with 9:24 to play, but the Flames quickly restored the two-goal advantage barely a minute later with a Noah Hanifin one-timed shot from the high slot. Just before Tolvanen’s marker, the Kraken had an Alex Wennberg power play goal waved off on a coach’s challenge after it was determined Jared McCann had committed goaltender interference on Dan Vladar seconds earlier by crashing the net.
Blake Coleman sealed it with an empty netter with 1:20 to play.
The Flames were coming off an embarrassing home loss to Chicago the previous night, then quickly fell behind when John Hayden scored his first Kraken goal on a redirection of a Borgen point shot with the game barely five minutes old. But from that point on, the Flames reminded the announced Climate Pledge Arena crowd of 17,151 exactly why they’re the division’s defending champs.
Elias Lindholm got in behind Adam Larsson and tipped home a Toffoli pass on the backhand to tie things 1-1 fewer than two minutes after Hayden’s goal. And aside from Borgen subsequently manhandling Andrew Mangiapane after he’d poked for rebound try on goalie Martin Jones — both were assessed roughing minors on the play — the Kraken gave fans little to cheer about the rest of the way once Calgary went into its renowned lockdown mode.
The Kraken, missing the zone entries of injured center Matty Beniers, were repeatedly slowed in the neutral zone and denied any chance to set up for scoring opportunities in the Flames’ end. Calgary was at one point outshooting the Kraken 26-8 just past the game’s midway point before the home side was awarded three successive power play opportunities.
Those man advantages seemed to briefly wake up the home crowd in an arena so silent that a pin dropped on a marshmallow might have violated the city’s noise ordinance. Still, despite a flurry of shots from a distance and players having sticks lifted as they tried for rebounds, the Kraken never really came close to a second goal in the trio of power plays.
Kraken goalie Jones was left to fend mostly for himself in the first period after Hayden’s goal. The Flames were left unguarded in the slot at key moments, starting with Toffoli’s go-ahead marker after Calgary threw the puck around in the zone at will.
Coleman finally took a pass in the high slot and directed a shot toward the net that Toffoli got his stick on as it was being lifted and redirected it by Jones. The Zadorov goal was another case of the Kraken chasing the play and not catching up in time as he one-timed a pass into a vacant left side as the seconds ticked down toward intermission.
Lindholm drew assists on both goals to cap a three-point night by him.
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