Kraken put in the hard work needed against Panthers to snap 3-game losing streak

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SUNRISE, Florida — It was clear early on in Sunday night’s latest and much-needed road victory that the Kraken were prepared to do the work that had gone missing in recent games.

Barely one minute had ticked off the game clock of this 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers when Jared McCann jumped on an offensive zone turnover, backhanded the puck out to the high slot and watched Matty Beniers unleash a cannon-blast slapper for the opening goal. Even after the Panthers had tied things in the second period, the Kraken aggressively pursued the puck deep in the Florida end and eventually notched a go-ahead goal just 1:31 later.

Oliver Bjorkstrand did a good job keeping the puck in at the blue line and fed a pass to Yanni Gourde, who slipped it to Andre Burakovsky just atop the right faceoff circle. Burakovsky unleashed a powerful wrist shot that Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky had little chance on and the Kraken were ahead to stay.

And the hard work didn’t stop in the third period, with the Kraken pouring on three more goals to win it going away.

Beniers got the first one started by playing the puck in the Panthers’ end, circling back to the point and firing a shot toward the net that Jordan Eberle redirected for the line’s second goal of the night. Daniel Sprong added a fourth Kraken goal on the power play with under five minutes remaining with a one-timed slapper from the left circle.

Gourde capped the Kraken scoring late before Matt Kiersted got one back for the Panthers in the final two minutes.

In fact, the Kraken looked so impressive at times on their way to snapping a three-game losing streak that Panthers coach Paul Maurice lost his cool with his players on the bench during the middle frame. During one television timeout, Maurice could be seen visibly agitated, waving his arms and scolding his players like a father who’d caught teenagers raiding the liquor cabinet. 

The scene went on for several moments, with Maurice appearing to implore his players to backcheck more and not allow the hard-charging Kraken to freewheel in front of Bobrovsky as they had for much of the latter part of the period. The Panthers’ netminder made a couple of key stops to keep it a one-goal game.

Down at the other end, Kraken goalie Martin Jones had done his part to help maintain his team’s early lead. A Panthers power play not long after the Beniers goal led to five Florida shots on net in the two minute session.

But Jones stopped them all. The highlight was his kick-save on an Eetu Luostarinen redirect attempt from point-blank range in the slot.

Florida had scored three power-play goals in beating the Kraken 5-1 at Climate Pledge Arena just eight days prior, so the early penalty kill was a boost indeed. The Panthers finally broke through against Jones at the 7:34 mark of the middle period when Brandon Tanev got muscled off a puck by Nick Cousins in behind the Kraken net. 

The puck was eventually centered back out front by Colin White where Eric Staal one-timed it home from the slot.

If anything, the goal seemed to revive the Kraken’s energy more than the home side’s. The Kraken were unrelenting from there, leading to Burakovsky’s goal and then later the Maurice eruption behind his bench.

Things got testy late when Kraken defender Justin Schultz got his stick up on Ryan Lomberg during a race for the puck. Lomberg didn’t appreciate it and promptly slammed Schultz into the boards from behind, earning a match penalty in the process.

Beniers was closest to the play and went hard at Lomberg after the hit. The two shoved each other and then players piled in. Lomberg got hold of Beniers and landed several punches on him while the two were on the ice before they were separated and order restored.

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