For the first time in over a century, the Montreal Canadiens headed to Seattle for a hockey contest, the first ever between them and the NHL’s newest team, the Seattle Kraken. Montreal had finally earned its first win of the season on Saturday, a 6-1 thumping of the Detroit Red Wings. The Kraken were also looking to find consistency as they started their NHL existence with a 1-4-1 record, including a tough loss in their home-opener.
The Canadiens made just one lineup change from Saturday night, with Cédric Paquette drawing in for Jake Evans, who according to head coach Dominique Ducharme was a bit banged up. The rest of the lineup remained the same, and Jake Allen got the start against Philipp Grubauer.
The Kraken jumped out into the lead just over a minute in as they took advantage of an early odd-man rush. With David Savard and Alexander Romanov on the back foot, Jordan Eberle waited for his opening and sniped one off the post and in behind Allen.
Eberle however, put his team in a tough spot as he was called for a trip on Josh Anderson just after his goal. Thankfully for him, the Canadiens’ power play reverted its woeful form. So much so that even when the Canadiens gained the zone and set up, they were limited to low-percentage shots from the blue line only.
However, the failed power play still seemed to spark some life into the Habs as they began to attack Seattle with more aggression, forcing more turnovers and failed plays. That aggressive attack created a two-on-one with Mike Hoffman and Brendan Gallagher streaking down the ice. Hoffman teed up Gallagher perfectly, and what looked like a sure goal was stolen away thanks to a massive lunging save by Grubauer.
The Habs continued to press against the Kraken, and their hard work paid off before long. Nick Suzuki brought the puck in deep, and as he was engaged by the Seattle defence his shot trickled across the goal mouth. Mike Hoffman snuck into the crease area, and despite taking a high-stick to the face he fired his second goal of the year home to tie the game up, and send the Habs to the power play as well.
The Habs’ power play again misfired, and this time the momentum went right back to Seattle. Sami Niku made a great read to jump into the play on the end of a Jonathan Drouin pass, but the play flipped after his shot was blocked. Niku was caught flat-footed, and instead of hustling back on the ensuing rush, he stopped to lift the stick from behind the play. Now chasing his man up the ice, a shot was fired in on Allen, and from a low-percentage area the puck found just a small enough gap to get over the line thanks to a deflection by Brandon Tanev to restore the Seattle lead.
An interference call on Drouin left the Habs with a two-minute minor to kill at the end of the first period. The penalty-killers managed that easily enough, but the Kraken did start the second with an abbreviated power play still. The Habs did fend off that final moments of the Seattle power play, but even as it expired they needed Allen to be sharp as Eberle got free in front and nearly had his second goal of the night.
Again, the Canadiens found their legs to push back, with Anderson breaking into the zone for a chance, and also Cole Caufield zooming through the Kraken zone with the puck on his stick, but Grubauer stood tall in defiance.
Even with the Canadiens taking control of the play, self-inflicted errors undid what should have been a strong period. Multiple failed zone exits led to Seattle turning it around immediately and scoring two goals in rapid succession to put Montreal deep in the hole. First was Yanni Gourde faking Allen out and easily tucking it home around him, then Tanev added to his earlier tally with a great shot from the slot.
To make matters worse, a holding penalty on Niku put the Habs back on the penalty kill to end the second period. Before the horn sounded, Gourde nearly added another goal, but Allen came up with a big stop to close out the second period.
The Canadiens shut down Seattle’s attempts to gain the zone in their remaining seconds of power-play time, keeping the deficit at three goals. Yet even with a strong kill in their pocket, the Habs were kept on their heels as the Kraken took over the offensive zone at even strength like it was still a man advantage.
Montreal earned an offensive-zone draw five minutes in, but the play immediately went the other way and Ryan Donato blew by Alexander Romanov en route to scoring a highlight-reel goal on Jake Allen to seal the game.
Paquette threatened to give Seattle an even larger lead with a late penalty, but in perhaps the only bright spot of the night, the PK came up big on the back of two huge shot blocks by Romanov.
In the end, it didn’t mean anything on the scoresheet as Seattle grabbed the 5-1 win and left the Canadiens back where they were a week ago. The team now heads into California for a three-game road trip, starting with a Thursday night clash with the San Jose Sharks at 10:30 PM ET.