Kraken beat Panthers for second time this season

An empty netter with 19 seconds left sealed the victory — the Kraken’s second this season over the best team in the NHL.

It hasn’t been an easy inaugural season for Seattle, who are ahead of just three teams in the league with 30 points. But on Sunday — at the halfway point in their schedule — the Kraken beat the Florida Panthers, 5-3.

Seattle’s first victory over the Panthers came during one of its best stretches of the season in November. The second victory was the Kraken’s third in the past four games. Asked about the success against Florida, Seattle forward Yanni Gourde could only smile and shake his head.

“For some reason, we stick to the game plan when we play them,” Gourde said. “We don’t do that against different teams, but tonight we did. Last time we played them, we did. We’re confident in what we do. We knew what to do against this team. We just kept grinding.

“We knew they were going to score goals, but we kept getting one more. We kept playing the same way. That’s how you have success in this league, doing the same thing over and over and over every single shift, every single game. That’s what leads you to be a good team and it’s to play against teams like that. That was definitely a step forward.”

When Florida scored early to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, it seemed like yet another game where an early hole would doom Seattle. But this time, the Kraken flipped the script. Despite falling behind, they kept generating scoring opportunities throughout the first period.

“We liked how we played tonight for basically all 60 minutes,” said forward Mason Appleton. “It was a very complete effort. We found a way to play a good game against Florida and that’s an accomplishment with the record they have.”

They scored three straight goals in the second period, starting with Marcus Johansson’s score at the 5:02 mark. Gourde then gave Seattle its first lead with a goal at 10:02. Just 17 seconds later, Colin Blackwell scored to put the Kraken up 3-1. The sequence marked the fastest consecutive goals in franchise history

The Panthers, who are second in the league with 4.02 goals per game, came roaring back minutes later with a goals from Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov to tie the game 3-3 heading into the second intermission.

But just 26 seconds into the third period, Appleton scored what became the game-winning goal for the Kraken.

“Tonight, we had good energy right from the drop of the puck,” Hakstol said. “We responded. We had a hell of a first period and we’re down by one. That formula for us is OK for us. … We’ve been able to come back and win games in that situation when we’ve played well. Whether we’re tied or down by one, we’ve been able to come back and win those games.

“Tonight, we had energy. We played well from the drop of the puck. We responded at the right time. We had a great goal-tending and timely plays offensively.”

Philipp Grubauer was exceptional in the net for Seattle, finishing with 28 saves — a .903 save percentage. The Panthers peppered him with shots in the third period, particularly during the final minutes after they pulled their goalie, but Grubauer held off one of the NHL’s most potent scoring attacks. Grubauer has averaged 26.7 saves in his last three starts, allowing 2.3 goals per game.

“We hit a rough patch,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “Up 3-1, we gave up a couple quick ones and the third one is a tough, strange goal off of our guy — up and over his shoulder. But (Grubauer) is right back to work. He was rock solid the rest of the way. … That’s the biggest thing that I see — being able to shrug off a goal-against and move on to the next save. That’s really important.”

Seattle will wrap up its homestead against Nashville on Tuesday before heading on the road for four straight games heading into the All-Star break.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting