SUNRISE, Fla. — Kraken rookie Matty Beniers had the perfect vantage point in lighting things up both early and late Sunday night for witnessing how his focused, relentless team was getting under its opponent’s skin.

First, it was Beniers rocketing a slap shot past Florida Panthers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky with the game barely a minute old on a pass to the high slot by Jared McCann off a turnover. Then, with this 5-2 win pretty much sealed in the third, Beniers saw frustrated Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg slam Kraken defenseman Justin Schultz into the boards from behind, prompting Beniers to engage in his first NHL tussle.

While Lomberg landed the majority of blows as the pair grappled on the ice, it was Beniers and the Kraken doing the punching back where it counted throughout a game that halted their losing streak at three.

“We scored on the first shift so that always helps, but after that we kept to it,” Beniers said in a postgame dressing room far more boisterous than it’s been for the Kraken in a while. “I think we’ve been maybe not struggling in the second [period], but having trouble keeping our momentum.”

Florida actually tied the game seven minutes into the second period, finally beating an excellent Martin Jones on a bang-bang play with Eric Staal one-timing a shot from the slot. But the goal, if anything, seemed to energize the visitors more than the home side.

They regained the lead just 91 seconds later, with Yanni Gourde feeding a streaking Andre Burakovsky from the corner and him firing a wrist shot off the crossbar and in. And they kept on coming from there; the rink tipping so one-sidedly in the Kraken’s direction that frustrated Panthers coach Paul Maurice called timeout and ripped into his team, arms flailing and cameras rolling, like a father that had caught his teenagers raiding the liquor cabinet.


The gist of Maurice’s tirade seemed to be imploring his players to backcheck in front of poor Bobrovsky, who did his best to match Jones and keep the Panthers in the game despite some premium Kraken scoring chances. But the dam finally broke in the third, with the Kraken forechecking pressure and neutral zone shutdown yielding three more goals by Jordan Eberle, Daniel Sprong and then Gourde to make it 5-1 before the Panthers got one back in the final two minutes.

“I think it was just a recognition that that’s something we’ve been struggling with,” Beniers said. “We knew it before the game — play a full 60 minutes. That was the recognition before the game and it was something we kind of harped on and we were able to put it into action tonight.”

It was Beniers who’d circled with the puck in the Panthers’ zone, carried it back out toward the point and fired a shot to the net that Eberle redirected for a third Kraken goal that — the way Jones was playing — pretty much ended things. It wasn’t long after that Lomberg took exception to a Schultz high stick and earned a match penalty for slamming him defenselessly into the boards.

There was no immediate postgame word on Schultz, who left the game and did not return for the final minutes. Beniers emerged unscathed from the flurry of Lomberg punches that landed on him in the ensuing pileup after he’d immediately gone back at the Panthers forward and shoved him hard.

Beniers agreed he’s better at landing blows with his shots than his fists but had little choice than to start the skirmish given Lomberg’s dangerous play.

“With a hit like that, it’s kind of what you do,” Beniers said.


And the Kraken, for the most part, never stopped doing what they had to.

“I think it was a much better effort than what we’ve seen lately,” said Gourde, who did a good job of spotting the onrushing Burakovsky ahead of his team’s critical third goal. “Much more of a complete game. A much more intense game. The compete level was higher.”

An example of that was the play Oliver Bjorkstrand made just to keep the puck inside Florida’s blueline just ahead of Gourde feeding Burakovsky for the goal. The Kraken — with Gourde square in the middle of it — also stymied the Panthers on three power play attempts after they’d scored three times with the man advantage in a 5-1 win eight days prior at Climate Pledge Arena.

They went on to outshoot the Panthers 32-25 overall, clogging up the neutral zone and limiting odd-man rushes against that had plagued them during their losing streak. And when that wasn’t enough, goalie Jones did the rest — especially on a first-period penalty kill in which the Panthers unleashed five shots.

But Jones stopped them all. The highlight was his kick-save on an Eetu Luostarinen redirect attempt from point-blank range in the slot.

“He was phenomenal,” Gourde said. “That was a great game by him.”


And one that coach Dave Hakstol’s team badly needed to improve to 16-8-3 overall and 9-2-1 on the road with two more away games this trip at Tampa Bay and Carolina.

“This morning we talked to getting back to who we are,” Hakstol said. “A little bit better at 5-on-5 and a little bit better in terms of how we checked and how we skated and we did that tonight.”

And in the process, overcame their first real adversity after a somewhat surprising start that’s had them challenging for the Pacific Division lead.

“I mean, we’d lost three in a row,” Hakstol said. “And we needed that 60-minute performance to be able to push back in the right direction and our players did that.”