Something new was clearly happening with the Kraken when defenseman Jamie Oleksiak headed to Tuesday night’s first intermission having notched a pair of very different assists on his team’s first two goals.

In fact, Kraken defensemen logged points on four of the team’s five scoring tallies in a win over Montreal. Whether joining rushes, making long breakout passes or simply pushing the puck out of their own end, the Kraken blue liners were at the forefront of multiple dangerous plays.

“I think the team as a whole kind of found our game the last few games,” Oleksiak said Wednesday following his team’s morning workout at Climate Pledge Arena. “And I think last night we were working as a five-man unit. Getting our D-men involved was a big part of that.”

Oleksiak got Tuesday’s first goal started barely a minute in with an outlet pass to Alexander Wennberg, who carried the puck into Montreal’s end. Wennberg dropped the puck for Jordan Eberle, who drifted to his right, hesitated and then fired a wrist shot past Canadiens goalie Jake Allen.

But Oleksiak’s second assist saw him take a Jared McCann pass in Montreal’s zone and carry the puck in deep down the right side toward the net. He then heaved it toward the goal for Brandon Tanev to redirect it home.

The defensive contributions to the attack continued in the second period, when a pair of Kraken goals just 1:57 apart put the home side up by three and pretty much salted things away.


Kraken defenseman Jeremy Lauzon got the first of those started on a transition play by breaking up a Canadiens entry in his own zone and nudging the puck to Jaden Schwartz, who fed Yanni Gourde streaking down the left side. Gourde faked a shot, then walked in alone and deked Allen for the prettiest all-around play of the night.

Then, fewer than two minutes later, defender Mark Giordano sent a long stretch pass across two lines to Gourde, who carried the puck in and then fed Tanev for a breakaway chance he put between Allen’s pads for his fifth goal this season.

The only Kraken goal not started by a defenseman came when Ryan Donato intercepted a pass, went in alone and deked Allen on another breakaway.

The five-goal outburst was a rarity for a Kraken squad that managed just six in its previous four contests. Kraken coach Dave Hakstol’s squad will need more offense Thursday night as the Minnesota Wild, sporting an impressive 5-1-0 record, pays a visit.

The Kraken will be without forward Mason Appleton, expected to miss significant time after suffering what appeared to be a right-knee injury in Tuesday’s second period. Appleton was seen on crutches Wednesday, and Hakstol said he’s awaiting a medical evaluation before decisions are made about recalling anyone from the AHL affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Meanwhile, the Wild canceled its scheduled Climate Pledge practice Wednesday, and it’s expected at least two players will miss the game after being placed in COVID-19 protocol. The team already had three assistant coaches put in COVID protocol Tuesday.


Hakstol said after practice Wednesday that seeing defenders contribute to the first four goals against Montreal was a welcome sight. Hakstol has preached a quick transition game from defense to offense, and the Kraken certainly jumped on several poor line changes by the Canadiens that led to odd-man rushes.

“I believe it’s a sign we’re getting a little better connected as a group between our D and our forwards,” he said. “You’re starting to see a little bit better efficiency in terms of our transition. And sometimes that’s a simple kind of 15- or 20-foot bump (of the puck) up ice to get our forwards going. Other times it’s making a first pass and then joining the rush, joining the attack.”

Oleksiak is sometimes reluctant to pinch too far forward. Seeing him join the rush on Tanev’s first goal suggests he’s gaining confidence in the Kraken’s system and has a better grasp on when to risk carrying the puck in deep.

“My main focus is on defense, and I’m kind of building that out,” Oleksiak said. “But last night we were moving well, and our forwards were doing a really good job of supporting us. So we were a little more comfortable jumping up in the play. I pick my spots when I can join or not, and that was just one of those opportunities.”