For the second straight year, the Kraken went into TD Garden and beat the team atop the standings in the East Conference. It was an impressive win. Not just because of the caliber of the opponent, but because Seattle was able to find a way in a game where they were outshot and gave up the first goal of the game.

Plenty of credit for what would eventually be a 4-1 win over the Bruins goes to Boston product Joey Daccord who was stellar in goal, but it also goes to the Kraken skaters who, as Dave Hakstol said post-game, “made plays at the right time.”

And there could be no better example of doing that than the game-winning goal. The score came late in the second period and brought together a Boston-area native who had a three-point night, an All-Star, and a player who joined the team last season through a smart waiver wire pickup.

So how did that goal come to be?

As part of our Playing With Ease series presented by GEICO, let’s dig in.

In the second period, the game was tied 1-1 and Boston was tilting the ice their way (ultimately generating 27 shot attempts to Seattle’s 20 in the middle frame).

The Matty Beniers line (with Jordan Eberle and Jared McCann) was on the ice in what was Beniers’ fourteenth shift of the game. With just under three minutes to play and the puck in the Kraken’s offensive zone, McCann – and shortly thereafter Eberle – correctly went for a change.

Onto the ice came Oliver Bjorkstrand and Eeli Tolvanen but with Boston gaining possession, (and since he was on the opposite side of the ice as the bench), Beniers stayed with the play.

The three moved into the defensive zone as the Bruins set up camp and cycled the puck for the next 24 seconds.


Round and round the puck went, with one missed shot coming off a Boston stick. But then – opportunity strikes!

Brad Marchand (BOS 63) passed the puck to defender Brandon Carlo (BOS 25) at the point with a routine pass. Carlo receives the pass with ease…the only problem? He loses an edge on his left skate and falls to the ice…he’s instantly out of the play and the puck is available.


All three Kraken forwards are eyes up following the play and even as Carlo tries to swing at the puck and Marchand tries to close and maintain possession, Tolvanen sees his chance.


Carlo comes really really close to connecting with the puck. But he doesn’t. The kicker is that if he had, given that the puck was traveling away from the blue line already and his stick is swinging in that direction as well. Any contact would have likely just given the puck to Tolvanen or Beniers as a back-up.


Tolvanen connects with the puck, sending it towards the Bruins’ end of the ice and now the Kraken are off to the races. Carlo is out of the play, and the only Boston skater in position to challenge is the ever-aggressive Marchand who is going to do his best to defend against a two-skater rush by Tolvanen and Beniers.


Here’s where things get (more) interesting.

Marchand uses his stride to stay in front of Beniers and gain position in the center lane. He’s getting to a spot where, against a 2-on-1, he can ultimately choose to play the shot or the pass and trust that his goaltender will be set up to stop any resulting scoring chance. This is good hockeying.


Bjorkstrand isn’t ready to be done with the action either. When the Kraken gain possession, he’s behind the play, but he puts on the burners and streaks up the center of the ice. First, he catches up with his fellow forwards.


By the time Tolvanen opens up his stick to pass to a waiting Beniers, Bjorkstrand has drawn even with the rush.


And what Bjorkstrand does next is crucial. He doesn’t join the play as a passing or shooting option. He drives down the center AT Marchand. This pushes the Boston captain back – he can no longer play as aggressively as he may want; he also can’t read the play as easily because he has a Bjorkstrand in his face.  Marchand has also lost control of his stick because the Maestro executes a nice little lift to take that off the ice just in case.

The path for a Tolvanen to Beniers cross-slot pass is crystal clear.

“(Bjorkstrand’s center lane drive) was a great play by him,” Beniers said. “That's the hard-nosed play. And that goal doesn't happen without him.”


Now Beniers had the puck. Boston knows he’s a threat, and Marchand is going to bite and move to challenge a possible scoring chance as is goaltender Jeremy Swayman. The two Bruins that sit between the Kraken and the goal shift their focus to the right side of the ice.


And now we get another smart play. Beniers – in less than a second – sends the puck right back to Tolvanen. After the Bruins all commit to challenging Beniers as the possible scorer, he flips action back to the other side of the ice.


“It's funny, we came back in the locker room and I was like, ‘you knew I was going to do that, right?” Beniers said post-game. “(Tolvanen) was like, ‘yep.’ So, we were on the same page. He knew I was giving it right back to him and those work out.”

They sure do.

The power of the cross-slot pass is the challenge to not just Marchand, but particularly to Swayman to recover laterally with the speed required to defend against Tolvanen without losing control and taking yourself out of the play on the other side.

The Bruins cannot respond in time.


Tolvanen wastes no time in firing a one-timer into the net while Bjorkstrand adds a little screen – and shows off some serious ups! – for good measure.


Seriously. Look at that air time….and look at the puck in the back of the net.

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Now let’s watch it all come together at game speed.

SEA@BOS: Tolvanen scores goal against Jeremy Swayman

When all was said and done, that goal tied Tolvanen’s career high for points in a season (31); gave Beniers his second assist of the game (he’d add a goal later as well); and stood as the game-winner for Seattle over Boston.

It was a play that started with a little luck, but as they say, luck happens when opportunity meets preparation. And the Kraken were certainly prepared.