Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer (31) blocks the puck in front of Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) during the second period of a game Tuesday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer (31) blocks the puck in front of Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) during the second period of a game Tuesday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

Released at last: Kraken rally, drop inaugural game to Knights

Seattle comes back from three goals down to pull even, but falls to Las Vegas 4-3 in the first game in franchise history.

By Geoff Baker / The Seattle Times

LAS VEGAS — Seattle Kraken players not yet born the last time the city they represent boasted a professional hockey team had taken the ice here Tuesday night to showbiz glitz and star-studded pageantry.

The pregame festivities preceding the franchise’s inaugural contest at T-Mobile Arena featured a hologram of a supposed giant Kraken curling its tentacles through cracked ice only to be slain by a lone Golden Knight costumed figure. By the time the electrified home crowd had settled down from that gimmickry, the actual game picked up where the preamble left off as the Kraken fell behind early, came all the way back but lost 4-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights on a controversial kick-in goal by Chandler Stephenson.

The disputed play at 8:33 of the third period was upheld upon video review even though Stephenson clearly redirected the puck in with his skate — which is allowed by NHL rules as long as a player doesn’t do it with a clear kicking motion.

The Kraken clearly didn’t agree, especially given the goal came just 35 seconds after Morgan Geekie had tied the score at 3 with a short-side wrist shot that beat Vegas goalie Robin Lehner from the right faceoff circle.

That goal brought his team back from a 3-0 deficit during a game in which it surrendered goals to Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Marchessault just 6:36 into the contest, then another by Pacioretty at 6:43 of the middle frame.

But the Kraken weren’t quite as done as their pregame look-alike.

Cheered on by pockets of vocal visiting fans sporting Kraken garb of all types, the upstart visitors saw a franchise-first goal by Ryan Donato on a goal mouth scramble midway through the second period followed just 1:12 later by a Jared McCann strike through traffic to cut the Vegas lead to just one.

In the final minute, with goalie Philipp Grubauer pulled for an extra attacker, the Kraken buzzed around the Vegas net but failed to convert close-in chances.

Still, on a night the Kraken also confronted the emotion of making history, their own finishing kick — though not as decisive as Stephenson’s — wasn’t the worst debut for a team that wants to be known as unrelenting.

This was the first pro game for a Seattle team since the Western Hockey League Totems closed up shop for good in 1975; at least one of its former players, 82-year-old Howie Hughes — author of a WHL championship clinching goal in 1967 — had flown here with his daughter for Tuesday’s game just like so many other Seattle-area residents.

The last Seattle major pro hockey team, the Metropolitans, last played a game in 1924 and won their lone 1917 Stanley Cup championship before anybody watching Tuesday could possibly have seen those games live. And that’s the ultimate pressure and responsibility the Kraken faced in this one: Knowing how long it’s been since the world’s highest-level hockey was represented in the Emerald City and wanting to do that honor justice.

They played like a team feeling some heat in the early going. Kraken goalie Grubauer overcommitted to his right on Pacioretty’s first goal and the veteran Vegas winger easily snapped the puck by his glove and into the largely vacated net.

The second goal came off a Vince Dunn turnover in his own end, with Marchessault later finding himself alone in front of Grubauer and undressing the goalie with some nifty deke moves.

But Grubauer made a key save off Nolan Patrick late in the period just moments after Brandon Tanev lost the puck on a clear-cut breakaway chance while killing a penalty.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Kyle Beach
Ex-Silvertip revealed to be alleged victim in sex assault probe

Kyle Beach says he is the “John Doe” in a report accusing the Blackhawks of failing to act on the allegations.

Stanwood's Ryder Bumgarner rushes with yardage with Arlington's Trenton Lamie, left, closing in the third quarter Friday night at Stanwood High School on September 24, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Week 9 prep football leaderboard

The top passers, rushers and receivers in the area.

Jackson's Avery Friedricksen jumps to trap the ball during the game against Glacier Peak on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021 in Snohomish, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Jackson girls soccer rallies past GP for shared Wesco 4A title

Kaeden Hansen nets a pair of 2nd-half goals and the Timberwolves win 2-1 to split the league crown.

White line on Green grass sport field for sport concept
Prep sports results for Wednesday, Oct. 27

Prep sports results for Wednesday, Oct. 27: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Tennessee's Natalie Hayward, an Archbishop Murphy graduate, serves during a game against Texas Tech on Aug. 27, 2021, in Knoxville, TN. (University of Tennessee athletics)
Murphy grad leads Tennessee volleyball into national spotlight

Setter Natalie Hayward has won three SEC Player of the Week awards this season for the 21st-ranked Lady Vols.

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve celebrates after a home run during the seventh inning in Game 2 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Astros top Braves, even World Series at game apiece

Houston rides a four-run second inning and a strong start from Jose Urquidy to a 7-2 win over Atlanta.

California running back Christopher Brooks (34) scores a touchdown as Washington State defensive lineman Jesus Echevarria (78) and others watch in the first quarter of an NCAA football game in Berkeley, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/John Hefti)
Community roundup: Murphy alum earns scholarship at WSU

Jesus Echevarria is awarded for his hard work, Washington Golf honors local standouts, and more.

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Oct. 18-24

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Oct. 18-24. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Monroe’s Iseah Canizales attempts a reception over Snohomish’s Joshua Vandergriend Friday night at Monroe High School on October 22, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
3 takeaways from Week 8 of prep football in Snohomish County

Monroe-Snohomish may’ve been the game of the year. Also, Kamiak proved doubters wrong in a close loss.

Most Read