Final | Canucks 4, Kraken 2

7 p.m. | Climate Pledge Arena | Seattle

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Kraken’s Climate Pledge Arena debut

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Kraken drops home opener to Canucks, but that can’t spoil excitement at Climate Pledge Arena

They stood and saluted by the thousands Saturday night as a new era for Seattle sports launched with major professional hockey reborn within an arena similarly resurrected.

What the Kraken did at Climate Pledge Arena, losing 4-2 to the Vancouver Canucks, was secondary to the event itself. The sellout crowd of 17,151, marveling at the modern spectacle that used to be KeyArena before it was demolished and rebuilt under the same roof, erupted in thunderous cheers when their first major hockey team since the 1924 Metropolitans took the ice.

They kept on cheering wildly when Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn scored the first goal in arena history, taking a pass at the left point, walking in and hesitating momentarily before beating Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko with a wrist shot to his glove side. The clock said only 3.2 seconds remained in the period, and so the cheering didn’t stop until well after the Washington State Ferry goal horn ceased, the intermission began and teams headed off the ice to their dressing rooms.

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—Geoff Baker
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Final: Canucks 4, Kraken 2

Empty-netter seals it for Canucks

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Canucks take 3-2 lead on Conor Garland goal

Canucks score equalizer with 7 minutes left

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Mark Giordano gives Kraken 2-1 lead early in third period

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Second-period impressions

Concentrated energy

Like its opening in Vegas, the Kraken jumped out with a lot of energy to begin the game. The difference this time was intent.

Likely because there were five games under its belt, the Kraken made more concentrated plays, smarter pinch-ups from defenders in the offensive zone and had an generally more focused approach. That’s what it worked on the past two days in practice, along with getting more speed to stop transition.

The Kraken had, if anything, a transition advantage over the first two periods, right from the start with Yanni Gourde’s opening breakaway and then a chance from Jared McCann.

They didn’t make many mistakes all game until a Mark Giordano turnover resulted in Bo Horvat’s game-tying tally in the second. That was one of the more low-hockey-IQ plays at that point in the game, and it burned them.

Overall, it has been a more cerebral, intent-driven game from the Kraken than it had shown all season.

Controlled intensity

Earlier this week, Giordano said one indicator of a team too amped up is taking penalties. The Kraken found itself in a physical matchup with the Canucks but didn’t seem to lose control.

There was one cross-check from McCann in the opening frame and a roughing call against Carson Soucy in the second, but even when more physical plays occurred — Brandon Tanev was knocked down along the boards midway through the second — the Kraken didn’t lose composure. It’s not easy to keep that poise in such an emotional game.

Role reversal

The Kraken didn’t allow a high-danger chance against in a single period for the first time all season in the first. The team its playing had a different experience.

Entering Saturday, the Canucks were one of only two teams to allow more high-danger chances than the Kraken. It showed especially in the second period where, if not for Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko making a couple of tremendous saves, the damage could have been a lot worse.

Nathan Bastian had a tremendous chance coming through the back door, and Alexander Wennberg’s wraparound almost fooled the Canucks defense before the puck sat in the crease for a couple of seconds.

Demko’s saves gave the Canucks a chance to respond, after they hadn’t gotten a shot on goal since 5:23 left in the first period until they finally made the scoreboard. 

—Marisa Ingemi

Kraken unable to convert quality chances

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Canucks' Bo Horvat ties it up at 1

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Canucks on power play early in middle frame

First-period impressions: Vince Dunn scores first goal in Climate Pledge Arena history

The Kraken vowed to do a better job in the transition game and certainly didn’t disappoint. Right off the bat, Jaden Schwartz floated a lofty pass from the neutral zone that Yanni Gourde knocked down in full stride for an apparent breakaway.

Gourde actually got a shot off that was stopped, but the play was blown dead when it was ruled he had used a high stick to knock the pass down. A lot of excitement for nothing, but it typified the opening 10 minutes in which the Kraken was far stronger at breakout passes from its own end and creating chances in Vancouver’s zone.

But the Canucks survived the early barrage and appeared to regain their footing. At times, they caught the Kraken players running around in their own zone. The Kraken, however, found new energy in the closing minutes, hitting a post and then having a productive power play in which Alex Wennberg had the best chance on a shot blocked with the net partially open.

The Kraken kept the pressure on in the final minute, and it paid off big. Vince Dunn got the puck at the left point, walked in — hesitating momentarily — and then hoisted a wrist shot over Thatcher Demko’s left shoulder, glove side, for the first goal in Climate Pledge Arena history.

The goal, with only 3.2 seconds remaining in the period, sent the crowd into a frenzy and sent the Kraken to the dressing room with a 1-0 lead. Kraken outshot the visitors 12-9, but it was fairly even until the final few minutes.

—Geoff Baker
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End of first: Kraken 1, Canucks 0

Vince Dunn scores Kraken's first goal at Climate Pledge Arena

Kraken on power play with 3 minutes left in first period

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Fans on the edge of their seats on each Kraken chance

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McCann called for cross-checking, Canucks on power play

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Game is underway — and Kraken almost scores immediately

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A look at the Kraken hype video

Kraken retires No. 32

Kraken fans boo NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

Kraken out on the ice for warmups

Kraken pregame notes: Another first for Kraken, this time at home

After tonight, perhaps it’ll start to feel like a routine.

The Seattle Kraken make its Climate Pledge Arena debut tonight, facing the cross-border rival Vancouver Canucks (at least, the league would like that to be the case) in its first-ever home game.

The Kraken has never had a true home game; even before the five-game road trip to begin the season, all the preseason games were on the road or played at junior arenas throughout the state.

Saturday included a lot of adjusting; to the ice, to the bounces off the boards, to where the players and coaches are supposed to go. When they play at home again on Tuesday, that’ll become second nature.

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—Marisa Ingemi

After years in the making, Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena set to enter Seattle sports landscape

There undoubtedly will be improved sports venues added to this city’s landscape at some point long after Climate Pledge Arena stops being today’s shiny new toy

But those who fought to rebuild the former KeyArena into a modernized, state-of-the-art $1.15 billion venue under the previous version’s 44-million-pound, historically preserved roof hope that doesn’t happen for some time. Just as T-Mobile Park is now into its third decade and Lumen Field finishes off its second with no talk of replacement, there’s hope that Climate Pledge can endure for decades more.

And ultimately, once the history of early 21st century Seattle sports is written, all three buildings will have played a defining role.

And in the case of this new arena — all privately financed, unlike the other two venues — it will go down not only as the city’s latest winter sports palace but also the place that on Saturday night will finally showcase a local NHL Kraken franchise some suggest was a century in the making.

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—Geoff Baker

Versatility paying off for ex-Canuck Jared McCann as Kraken prepares to face his former team

It seems like every game is a revenge game for the Kraken.

Last weekend in Columbus, Alex Wennberg made his return in front of Blue Jackets fans for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. And this week in New Jersey, Nathan Bastian faced the team that left him exposed in the expansion draft.

On Saturday, in the Kraken’s inaugural home game, Jared McCann has a revenge game of his own.

He wasn’t the Kraken’s expansion selection from the Vancouver Canucks; that was Kole Lind, now in the AHL. The Kraken took McCann from Toronto, a team that added him in a trade from Pittsburgh as a shield for its other forwards.

The Kraken is the fourth team McCann has spent time with — Toronto doesn’t count, though it was a wild 48 hours — and the first where he feels like he can hit his stride.

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—Marisa Ingemi

From the Sonics’ departure to the Kraken’s arrival, here’s how KeyArena became Climate Pledge Arena

It turns out the lost battle over keeping the Sonics was the opening salvo in a much longer fight to create a “new” major sports arena for the Kraken and likely home for the NBA team’s revival.

Then-Sonics owner Howard Schultz sold the team in 2006 to a group led by Clay Bennett that eventually moved it to Oklahoma City in 2008 largely because KeyArena badly needed the kind of $1.15 billion overhaul that has become Climate Pledge Arena.

Since then, any Sonics rebirth was predicated upon a serious arena upgrade. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offered to buy the Sonics from Bennett in 2008 and pay half of a $300 million KeyArena upgrade, with the city and state covering the remainder.

But state lawmakers largely opposed further such subsidies, and Bennett wasn’t interested in selling.

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—Geoff Baker

After $1.15 billion renovation, Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena ‘will surprise people in the greatest way’

From the first blast of natural light that greets visitors entering the new spectator bowl within Climate Pledge Arena, it will be glaringly obvious that KeyArena is now dead and buried.

Not beneath the actual venue, mind you, though there might have been room enough for a burial given the 680,000 cubic yards of dirt displaced as workers dug an extra 15 feet downward to form a new arena floor some 53 feet below street level.

Instead, much of KeyArena’s interior now rests in nearby landfills while some of the base structure — particularly the historically preserved roof and side windows — was recycled as part of the new facility.

Besides the roof and side windows, the KeyArena everybody knew is gone. There’s double the arena space in Climate Pledge Arena — some 932,000 square feet if an underground VIP parking garage is included — and an abundance of modern amenities, highlighted in striking fashion by the north end glass wall where natural light pours in.

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—Geoff Baker