It is an absolute pleasure to welcome back the sport of hockey to our homes. After a long summer and an exciting fall pre-season, the moment we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. Hockey blesses us with its presence on our television sets and many welcome fans are back in the stadiums to enjoy live sports in person again.
With the first day of the season over we had two exciting games to remind us just how amazing the sport can be. The back-to-back champion Tampa Bay Lightning raised their championship banner as they took on the formidable Pittsburgh Penguins at home in Amalie Arena. Through the first period, it was a back and forth battle between both teams. Netminders Andrei Vasilevskiy and Tristan Jarry displayed some wizardry in the net as neither team could get anything past them for the first period, but the Lightning couldn’t come in with the same energy as the cup run as the Penguins were the first to strike.
In the second period, recent Penguins acquisitions former Bruin Danton Heinen and beloved journeyman Brian Boyle buried the biscuit in the first four minutes and 11 seconds of the second period. After that, the Penguins just seemed to be in complete control of the game. They were riding high and generating a ton of offense.
The Penguins aren’t as dominant as they were at the end of the 2010s, yet are still a force to be reckoned with in the NHL. The poise this roster had going against arguably the best team in the league was phenomenal. Missing key players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jake Guentzel is hard to deal with. Especially because they bring so much talent and offensive skill to a roster that isn’t super deep without them. Yet the Penguins still managed to hang on.
The third period was filled with goals, as a total of 6 goals from both sides were scored. The major threats for Tampa were almost completely neutralized by the Penguins and their defense. Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos were all held off the score sheet. Meanwhile, the Penguins had Bryan Rust (who scored twice), Dominik Simon, Evan Rodrigues, and Teddy Blueger all got on the scoresheet to seal the deal and defeat the champions with a final score of 6-2.
The other game of the night was the Vegas Golden Knights taking on the newest NHL franchise, the Seattle Kraken. The Kraken were greeted with the wonderful theatrics of the Knights pre-game intro on the ice with the Golden Knight defeating the Kraken. This intro would foreshadow the end result of this game but still was awesome to see. Seeing the two newest franchises go at it on the opening night of the NHL was a spectacle as it brought on a great match.
The Vegas Golden Knights came out guns blazing with two goals scored within the first 10 minutes of the game. The Knights have always been known for their great puck possession as they controlled the pace at the start of the game. Max Pacioretty sent a laser beam into the net with Jonathan Marchessault following up with a patient but nasty play that made the score 2-0 to start the game.
In the second period, Pacioretty remained red hot as he scored once again as he deflected a shot past netminder Phillip Grubauer. The Kraken punched right back with Ryan Donato scoring the first goal in Seattle Kraken history. After that, the Kraken scored once again with a backhand shot that went five-hole by Jared McCann to make the game interesting with Vegas still leading 3-2.
The game eventually came down to the wire in the third period. With a great pass from Jeremy Lauzon, Morgan Geekie of the Kraken leaked out, and with a wicked wrist shot, Geekie managed to tie the game up. Unfortunately for the Kraken, they would not walk away with their first win in their first game. A great sequence of passes between Stone, Pacioretty, and Chandler Stephenson entering the zone and scoring in a miraculous manner as the pucked bounced off of Stephenson’s skate to ice the game.
Although Vegas played better and had the better lineup, the Seattle Kraken have shown that they have the potential to be a strong team this year. Playing in the Pacific Division where the Golden Knights will be their main rival, the Kraken should be one of the stronger teams in the division. With the solid depth they have and Grubauer performing better between the pipes than he showed the other night, the Kraken is due for a great inaugural season.