Salk: Kraken ‘did everything they needed’ to stun Avs in Game 1

Apr 19, 2023, 10:31 AM | Updated: 11:17 am

Seattle Kraken playoffs...

Philipp Grubauer of the Seattle Kraken celebrates with Morgan Geekie after a win against the Colorado Avalanche on April 18, 2023. (Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

(Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The Seattle Kraken kicked off their first-ever Stanley Cup Playoffs run in a big way, securing a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Tuesday night, beating the defending Stanley Cup champs in their first game of their title defense.

Seattle Kraken storm into playoffs, stun Avalanche 3-1

“They were great. They did everything they needed to do in that game,” Mike Salk said to open Brock and Salk Wednesday morning on Seattle Sports.

A big part of that? Getting off to a hot start.

Winger Eeli Tolvanen stole the puck deep in Colorado’s defensive zone, took a shot, got his own rebound and then put the puck in the back of the net to give the Kraken a 1-0 lead just 3:26 into the game.

Salk said two things about that goal really stood out to him.

“One, it came off a mistake. What did I tell you yesterday? The biggest thing in the playoffs, mistakes get magnified … Everyone’s pointing at it because the games are so tight, they’re so tense,” he said. “… No. 2, who scored that goal? The guy that you found off waivers. I mean, really, nothing could symbolize this Kraken season more than a guy who you got off waivers who’s now essentially a second-line winger for you putting the puck in the net.”

Related: Salk’s 3 Keys for Kraken in playoff matchup vs Avs

The other two goals Seattle scored were textbook for the Kraken, with Morgan Geekie helping set up Alex Wennberg for a score, then putting the third Kraken goal into the next himself.

“That was Kraken hockey, man. Everybody doing their job,” Salk said. “First line doing its thing, keeping the puck in deep – they didn’t score a goal yesterday, but I thought they played pretty well – and the second line grabbing the goals.”

Salk thought head coach Dave Hakstol had a great game plan and did “a pretty darn good job” executing it.

“Hakstol had a good game. He got that matchup he wanted most of the time with his third line, the Yanni Gourde line, out there against (Colorado’s Nathan) MacKinnon line, which was great and they did a really good job holding them down,” he said. “And I thought (Hakstol) did a really good job of kind of substituting in Geekie and (Brandon) Tanev. He kind of used Tanev as his fourth line winger but also in spots where he could be helpful. Same with Daniel Sprong.”

All that being said, Salk thinks the biggest story of the night was the play of Philipp Grubauer, a one-time Avalanche goaltender who stopped 34 of 35 shots on Tuesday.

“Philipp Grubauer went back to Colorado, a place where you heard (Brock and Salk co-host Brock Huard) say 100 times yesterday that he was run out of town because of a bad playoff series, and he was by far the better goaltender yesterday,” Salk said. “… That was the best game he’s played in a Kraken uniform. Now, it’s a low bar. He has not been spectacular for most of his time. He’s been pretty good down the stretch this year … That might have been the best game he’s played as a member of this franchise … He was phenomenal yesterday in what I’m sure was somewhat emotional for him going back to the town that he got run out of and beating the defending champs.”

The Kraken will look to add to their lead in the best-of-seven series in Game 2, which is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Denver.

Listen to Salk break down the Kraken win in the podcast below.

Fann: Seattle Kraken with prime opportunity to turn casual fans into diehards

Brock and Salk podcast

Brock and Salk

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Salk: Kraken ‘did everything they needed’ to stun Avs in Game 1