5 Takeaways From Kraken’s 3-2 Win Over Avalanche in Game 5

The Seattle Kraken are inching closer to history as they defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in Game 5, taking a 3-2 series lead. It was a tense affair throughout, but ultimately, the Kraken did well to put the puck in the net when it mattered most and shut the Avalanche down as they desperately tried to even the score.

This game was full of emotion, hard work, and execution. It’s hard to picture a better effort than the one the Kraken put forth, as they went on the road and shut down the Avalanche at a pivotal point in the series. With that, here are five takeaways from a very successful night for the Kraken organization.

5. Kraken and Firebirds Double Dip in Colorado

Before diving into the wonders of the Kraken’s Game 5 win, let’s take a look at their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Coachella Valley Firebirds. The Kraken and Firebirds share players, but they also share a lot of parallels this season.

Both teams made their first playoff appearances, with their current matchups taking place against the Avalanche and their AHL affiliate, the Colorado Eagles. The Firebirds won their best-of-three first-round matchup over the Tucson Roadrunners 2-1, and now face the Eagles in a best-of-five.

The two teams also shared victory tonight, with the Kraken winning Game 5 3-2 in Denver, Colorado, and the Firebirds winning Game 1 6-2 in Loveland, Colorado. It’s one of those rare moments in hockey when the NHL club and their affiliate match up with the same organization, but it makes it that much more fun when both teams come away with a win.

4. Milestone Moment for Kartye

In Game 5, the Kraken began life without Jared McCann, who is out for at least a game after taking a late hit from Cale Makar. While Makar was suspended for the hit, the fact of the matter is that the Kraken lost their best goal scorer at the most important point of their season. Cue Tye Kartye, who was recalled from the Firebirds to take McCann’s spot on the top line next to Matty Beniers and Jordan Eberle.

Related: Kraken Need More From Top Line to Keep Series in Reach

Kartye has had a phenomenal first professional season in the AHL after a successful junior hockey run, registering 28 goals and 57 points in 72 games for the Firebirds. His goalscoring obviously impressed the Kraken, who immediately placed him in a high-leverage situation. Playing his first NHL game in Game 5 of a playoff series undoubtedly comes with a lot of pressure, but none of that seemed to matter for the 21-year-old.

Tye Kartye Seattle Kraken
Tye Kartye, Seattle Kraken (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Taking a wonderful feed from Eberle, Kartye put the Kraken up 2-1 in the second period. The goal came just over two minutes after the Avalanche had tied the game, and the response seemed to shift the tides. With his parents in the building, Kartye created a memory that will last a lifetime and one that helped propel the Kraken to a Game 5 victory.

3. Yanni Gourde Comes Up Huge

After a massive penalty kill to start the third period, Yanni Gourde scored what went on to be the game-winner, putting the Kraken up 3-1. Gourde and his linemates, Eeli Tolvanen and Oliver Bjorkstrand, were instrumental in the Kraken’s Game 5 win, and once again demonstrated how much depth the Kraken have.

Gourde played a remarkable 22:14 in the game, which was first among Kraken forwards and third among defensemen. It felt like he was in on every play, often creating chaos while finding himself matched up against the Avalanche’s best players. To play as well as he did while working to contain Nathan MacKinnon is one of the most impressive efforts of the series so far, and Gourde did it with poise under the pressure.

Eeli Tolvanen Yanni Gourde Seattle Kraken
Eeli Tolvanen #20 of the Seattle Kraken celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal in the first period of Game 1 of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena (Photo by Ashley Potts/NHLI via Getty Images)

His line was very effective as well, outshooting their opponent 8-5 when on the ice, and out-attempting them 14-10. Not only that, but the shots were productive as well, creating chances that came from high-danger areas and testing Avalanche goaltender Alexander Georgiev. This is reflected in the expected goals (xG) battle, which they controlled as well. In just over 12 minutes together during the game, the Gourde line had an xG of 62.3 percent.

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The ice in Gourde’s veins was on full display in the Game 5 win, and one would assume his experience in playoff-pressure situations allowed him to handle the tension. Without overstating it, his presence in Game 5 felt like the difference, and he deserves one heck of a reception when the team returns to Seattle for Game 6.

2. Grubauer’s Strong Game

When the Avalanche attack began ramping up, Philipp Grubauer stood tall and ensured the Kraken lead was not lost. His solid play was key in holding the slim lead late in the game, and is now becoming one of the great stories of the first round.

Through five games, Grubauer has been one of the best goalies in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, ranking second in save percentage at .918. Not only that, but he’s turning aside several strong chances at key moments of games. In his first four starts, Grubauer had already faced the third-most expected goals at five-on-five (10.05) and despite the continued pressure from the Avalanche, he managed to maintain that form in Game 5 as he stopped 26 of 28 shots.

Philipp Grubauer Seattle Kraken
Philipp Grubauer, Seattle Kraken (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

There were several instances late in Game 5 where he was forced to make a big stop, and the only goal that made it past him was a bizarre bounce off of Alexander Wennberg and Jamie Oleksiak. Despite allowing the first goal, one he would likely want back, he stepped up and made the saves the Kraken needed him to. Now, he and his team have a great chance to win the series back at Climate Pledge Arena in Game 6.

1. Coming Home to Close it Out

Following their strong victory in Denver, the Kraken now have a chance to close out the series in front of their home fans in Game 6. Having already treated them to an overtime thriller in Game 4, they’ll now have a chance to give them a little taste of history if they can successfully eliminate the Avalanche on Friday, April 28.

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There weren’t many people who envisioned this situation, but it is an opportunity that the Kraken have to take in order to snuff out any attempt of a comeback from the Avalanche. With the series in their hands, ensuring it doesn’t go back to Colorado for a seventh game will be key to closing things out.

The Kraken will need to harness the crowd’s energy and play the right way, much like they did in Game 5. If they can keep playing their game, then this upset suddenly doesn’t seem as unlikely as many made it out to be. One can only assume the environment in Climate Pledge Arena for Game 6 will be electric, and that will make it one of the “must-watch” games of the postseason.

The Kraken are just one win away from advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Game 6 will kick off at 7:00 PM PT on April 28 and could end up being one for the history books.

Corsi and expected goals courtesy of MoneyPuck