Tuesday’s matchup against the Islanders was an important one for the Kraken. Coming off the All-Star break, the team’s game hadn’t been where they wanted it to be or where they knew it could be. Re-establishing that standard was essential, as was gaining two standings points in the playoff hunt. But to do that, they were going to have to break through one of the top goaltenders in the League: Ilya Sorokin.

For Matty Beniers, that turned out not to be a problem.

In a game where the center turned out to have the biggest individual impact according to Game Score, Beniers scored the first goal of the game. The tally was a reward for the exceptional effort the entire team put forth and also established an important lead that would allow the Kraken to dictate – rather than chase – the game.

So how did that goal come to be?

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

The Kraken couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game. They were enjoying sustained periods of time in the offensive zone thanks to solid execution on the forecheck – putting the puck in the right places and then beating Islanders skaters to gain possession.

The Kraken were looking to establish another one of those possessions when, with just about five minutes gone in the game, Jordan Eberle sent the puck into the zone and Beniers was in pursuit on the forecheck.

But Ryan Pulock (NYI 6) was also on the chase.


As the two battled for position, Pulock levied a hit on Beniers that took him out of the play (we’re not going to look at that – no one wants to see that). And Kraken fans held their breath as Beniers went down to the ice and stayed down.

But just like Seattle faithful weren’t happy about the hit, neither was Eberle. The alternate captain battled for the loose puck, and as it advanced out by the Islanders, Eberle put in extra effort to let Pulock know his displeasure with the hit on his center.


This accomplishes a couple things. While the hit was clean, Eberle gives a little reminder that the Kraken will stand up for one another. Even more importantly, it ties up Pulock and keeps him from going in support of the play, so he’s now behind it.

And though the Islanders get the puck. The Kraken are still on the attack.

As play advances, Larsson is going to pick up the puck carrier, Kyle Palmieri (NYI 21). Vince Dunn is going to take the center lane and with a quick shoulder check, he visually takes in the landscape and sees that Anders Lee (NYI 27) is coming up the right flank to be a possible option for Palmieri.


So even with the puck getting to Palmieri, the Kraken may let him get to it, but Larsson’s long reach and strong stride aren’t going to let him do much with it afterward.


The simplicity but perfection of Larsson’s position makes it so that Palmieri can only make a play by going forward – which, because of his positioning, is away from the net.

Palmieri decides to take the only outlet he has, which is towards the boards. But in trying to avoid Larsson’s presence, he actually over-commits and the puck starts to roll off the toe of his stick.

Brock Nelson (NYI 29) has rightly come in to offer an outlet for a pass (if Palmieri can effort one). But the problem is Jared McCann has joined the play as well. And he’s in exactly the right spot to cut off the one passing lane that Palmieri has.


Meanwhile, because Dunn already has awareness of where Lee is, he stays in position, opening his hips allowing him to pivot if needed to negate any possible passing attempt by Palmieri to Lee; or, should a cross-zone pass connect, he’ll be able to quickly shift over and defend against any shooting lane or attempt.


But back to where the puck is.

It continues to roll…Palmieri no longer has possession and McCann’s position remains optimal because his responsibility is no longer to block the pass – it’s to retrieve the loose puck!


McCann gets to the puck, takes a few strides with his eyes up evaluating his options and guess who he sees…Matty Beniers.

Beniers had efforted to get up behind the play. As he headed towards the bench he was clearly assessing if he had time to go for a change, or if he needed to find the energy to stay out for the play. As he saw possession change, he got in line for McCann’s tape-to-tape pass. 

You know who wasn’t in the right place? The four Islanders who are now all behind the action. “Make the puck do the work,” as Dunn likes to say.


So with four opposing skaters beat, that means one was still back as the lone hope to stop the rush. Who could that be?

There’s only one New York player who could possibly stop Beniers’ rush attack. And it’s Pulock.


Pulock can’t recover in time to take away the lane with his body or his stick. Beniers takes his shot, beats Sorokin, and the Kraken are on the board.


“I was trying to just get off the ice and then saw the opportunity, and I was like I'm not that hurt,” Beniers said post-game with a laugh. So yeah, plays like (the hit) happen in hockey. He got me off balance, I went into the boards pretty hard but then, Canner made a nice play and I was fortunate to be there..”

Let’s watch it all come together at game speed.

SEA@NYI: Beniers scores goal against Ilya Sorokin

All put together, the Kraken played connected and with grit. They used speed and skill to get that all-important first goal in a game that they would go on to win 2-1.