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The Kraken Are For Real

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - APRIL 24: The Seattle Kraken celebrate the winning goal by Jordan Eberle #7 against the Colorado Avalanche during overtime in Game Four of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Climate Pledge Arena on April 24, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Seattle Kraken became real boys last night, doing the three things that separated them from the wooden puppets they had been until now. One, they won an overtime playoff game. Two, they did it at home. And three, they did it to the defending champions after blowing a two-goal lead.

Of the three, the one that will likely stay in their minds longest will be the second: doing it at home. There are few things in sports quite like winning a sudden death overtime game in front of your own patrons. They want it, they crave it, they have sold little Brendan's teeth to come up with the money to buy the tickets, and the tension has been building to the point that they can feel it through the alcoholic haze they applied to themselves by also pawning little Brendan's shoes. They are, as the saying goes, all in.

So when Jordan Eberle found a floater to the right of Colorado goalie Alexandar Georgiev three minutes into the first (and sadly only) extra period, the house came down. This was all new stuff to the fan base, and they had no doubt mentally prepped for a long, quiet drive home having squandered a multiple-goal lead in a badly needed game that by the first law of momentum was theirs. It was an explosion of joy that none of them will forget because that's how it works with first times. They linger awhile.

They will linger especially because of that two-goal lead they puked away in the final six minutes of the second period. Mikko Rantanen, the Avalanche's best player so far in this series, scored at 14:08 and then 19:10 to turn a win into a potentially galling defeat, made worse by the fact that three hours earlier the Tampa Bay Lightning had blown a three-goal lead in six minutes to the game's pre-eminent self-tracheotomists, the Toronto Maple Leafs. To those sophisticates who watch other series rather than just their own, they knew that there have been a recent rush of overtime games and nearly all of them have been won by the visiting side, a profound letdown every time.

Indeed, the Cup chase so far has been proof of the uselessness of home-ice advantage. Road teams are 20-12 so far, and no team has given any real indication that it is ready to face the frightening Boston Bruins on even footing. That's what this Cup is, a search to see if any team can put a scare into the most successful regular-season team ever, because the only thing to knock the Bruins about is that it is the best regular-season team ever, and as such is not trusted to finish the job because of the Presidents' Trophy curse (36 teams have won it, and 28 have failed to win the Cup).

Not that Seattle is the team to educate the Bruins, mind you. They have not yet provided the jaw-dropping pizzazz of the neonatal Golden Knights of 2018, and just lost their leading scorer Jared McCann for multiple games after a questionable hit by Colorado's Cale Makar. At this point the only team that has even hinted at troubling the Bruins with its postseason play is Carolina, currently dope-slapping the New York Islanders. But the Kraken don't have such aspirations yet; last night was their best moment as a franchise, and it only took three minutes to last forever.

So the Kraken go back to Denver even at two games apiece but still a prohibitive underdog. That almost doesn't matter, given that their resume can fit on an infant's toenail. They'll always have last night, and they'll have at least one more home game to see if the good vibes have staying power.

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