The Vancouver Canucks have drawn first blood in the Pacific Northwest rivalry.
The team wrapped up their six-game road trip on Saturday evening, facing off against the Seattle Kraken in their first-ever contest at Climate Pledge Arena. Like their predecessors, Seattle made sure to put on quite the opening spectacle for their fans, who had been excitedly chomping at the bit to finally watch hockey in their city.
Aside from the extremely awkward jersey retirement, the Kraken organization were able to create an electric atmosphere in the building, with everyone ready for the highly-anticipated inaugural moment for the league’s 32nd and newest team.
As expected, the game was up-tempo right away, with both clubs exchanging scoring chances and heavy hits throughout the opening frame. The Kraken were able to strike first, with Vince Dunn registering the historic goal with just seconds left in the first period, giving Seattle a 1-0 heading into the intermission.
The teams picked up right where they left off in the second period, continuing to battle extremely hard while also trying to get under each other’s skin in the process. For the most part, the momentum was swinging in Seattle’s favour, but the Canucks were able to hold their ground and eventually even up the score, thanks to Bo Horvat‘s second goal of the year.
Seattle responded in the final frame, with newly-named captain Mark Giordano finding the back of the net with 15 minutes to go. It looked like the Canucks were slowly going to run out of time in this contest but, as he has done so often in the past, Horvat made sure that his team still had a fighting chance, notching his second tally of the game with just over 10 minutes to go.
Horvat’s goal seemed to spark Vancouver, who upped the intensity in the latter half, desperately trying to pry away the important two points from Seattle. The team eventually got their wish, thanks to an unassisted tally off the rush from Conor Garland.
Justin Dowling sealed the deal with an empty-netter.
Saturday night’s contest was undoubtedly a great start to what both fanbases are hoping will blossom into a heated, physical and downright nasty rivalry up and down the I-5. Like their first five away games, Vancouver definitely needed to clean up some areas on the ice, both offensively and defensively, but what matters most is that they were able to come away with the much-needed victory before heading home.
Without further adieu, here are three takeaways from Saturday’s 4-2 win over Seattle:
Demko stands tall once again
Welcome to the Thatcher Demko show, Seattle.
As has been the case for much of his time as a starter, Demko once again proved why he’s one of the best players on the Canucks.
The 25-year-old had to be sharp right out of the gate, stopping a breakway chance just 24 seconds in the contest that would’ve undoubtedly blown the roof off of Climate Pledge Arena. Fortunately, Demko’s teammates were able to pick up the pace shortly after, making sure that their netminder wasn’t peppered with too many shots early on, but that didn’t last too long.
The Kraken were clearly the better team in the latter half of the opening frame, creating scoring chances from all over the ice that forced Demko to be sharp and dialed in. Seattle’s pressure ultimately got to Vancouver in final few minutes, with Juho Lammikko taking a penalty of the game to send the Kraken on their first powerplay of the game.
And as we’ve heard numerous times throughout this season already, Demko once again stood tall as the team’s best penalty killer, thwarting all of Seattle’s chances on the man advantage.
Demko continued to add to his highlight reel package in the middle frame with multiple ten bell saves, including these beauties:
Demko’s heroics carried over into the third period, particularly in final half of the third period with Seattle throwing everything but the kitchen sink towards him. Demko stopped 29 of 31 shots en route to Vancouver’s victory, bringing his record to 3-1-1 with a .924 SV% and 2.53 GAA.