Rule of thumb: don't read too much into preseason results.
Bearing that in mind, it was interesting to see the Seattle Kraken improve their exhibition record to 3-0-0 on Thursday with a 4-3 overtime road win over the Vancouver Canucks.
Earlier this week, the Kraken kicked off their sophomore campaign with matching 3-0 home shutouts against the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.
Sure, those opponents didn't bring along their top stars like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, or Jonathan Huberdeau. But after the Kraken finished last season with the NHL's ninth-highest goals against, it was impressive to see goaltenders Martin Jones, Joey Daccord, Philipp Grubauer, and Magnus Hellberg each record clean sheets in half-a-game of action apiece.
When Daccord and Jones made the trip to Vancouver on Thursday, the script was flipped. The Canucks were dressing stars like Quinn Hughes, J.T. Miller, and Thatcher Demko for their first action of the preseason, while the Kraken left most of their mainstays at home.
The talent discrepancy looked insurmountable in the first period. Daccord was torched for three goals on 12 shots, including two on the power play. Sharp-shooting Canucks rookie Andrei Kuzmenko led the way with two goals and an assist.
Then, Daccord held the fort through the first half of the second period. He stopped all nine shots he faced before giving way to Jones, who was perfect the rest of the way.
And after dropping the gloves with Vancouver defenseman Kyle Burroughs in the first period, rugged journeyman John Hayden squared off with big Dakota Joshua in the second, not long after Joshua knocked Seattle defenseman Michal Kempny out of the game with an injury with a hard hit along the end boards.
Early in the third, after Arturs Silovs took over in the Vancouver net, an unguarded Kole Lind pushed a loose puck over the goal line to narrow the Canucks' lead to one.
The Kraken tied the score with 7:27 remaining in regulation when a wide-open Hayden beat Silovs from the high slot after a side-board turnover by the Canucks in their defensive zone.
Signed to a one-year contract at the league's minimum salary during the offseason, Hayden was named the game's second star, and made quite an impression on his new coach.
"That's a hard job," said Dave Hakstol after the game. "He ended up in two scraps and maybe as a little point of justice, he scores the game-tying goal. So that's big."
"Thank god we found our legs," said Hayden. "I thought it was a tough start but a really good test. We had a young group and they had some of their big dogs in.
"It was a physical game, but all around I think there's a good learning curve and a good sign that there's a ton of resilience in this group."
Ryan Donato sealed the win for the Kraken, on a breakaway with 40 seconds left in a chaotic overtime period that saw the two teams trade chances.
One big name who did make the trip to Vancouver was 2022 fourth-overall pick, Shane Wright. In his second NHL game, he logged a solid 19:09 of ice time, including power-play minutes and two shifts of 3-on-3 overtime.
Wright earned his first NHL point on Seattle's first goal, drawing the primary assist after his initial shot created the goalmouth scramble that led to Tye Kartye's tally.
"I'll have to go back and look at it, but I've got him in my mind for three good scoring chances," said Hakstol after the game. "One of those will go, eventually, and that'll loosen him up a little bit more.
"It's little areas of the game that he continues to become more comfortable with, and tonight he's playing against some good players.
"We didn't hide him. He was out there in the D zone and the offensive zone against whoever was up next. So those are real good experiences, and a big part of guys competing for a spot on the roster is going through that experience. Seeing the reaction and the confidence going back out, next shift."
Seattle's arrival as an expansion franchise was supposed to create an immediate geographic rivalry with Vancouver, 150 miles to the north. But Year 1 was a bit of a dud, as the Canucks easily swept the four-game season series.
But Thursday's game served up a healthy dose of emotion, with lots of physical play and a determined comeback by the underdogs.
"I think we kind of had a chip on our shoulder coming into this game and we just had a blast," said Hayden. "We didn't quit. It was a fun night."
The temperature could rise by a few more degrees when the two sides do battle again on Saturday, this time at Climate Pledge Arena. Puck drop is set for 9:30 p.m. ET.