By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) — Bo Horvat and Conor Garland were not interested in letting the home debut of the Seattle Kraken turn into an all-night celebration.
Instead, they helped add a little fire to the burgeoning Pacific Northwest rivalry between Vancouver and Seattle by crashing the Kraken’s party.
“It was loud. They got rockin’ there, especially when they scored,” Horvat said. “But I thought we did a great job keeping our composure and not letting it get to us and responding.”
Horvat scored his second goal of the game on a power play with 7:08 remaining, and Garland scored on a breakaway three minutes later as the Canucks spoiled the home debut of the Kraken with a 4-2 win on Saturday night.
Garland assisted on Horvat’s first goal in the second period, and then scored his third of the season to give Vancouver a 3-2 lead and ruin a celebratory night with the Kraken playing their first home game in their new $1 billion arena.
Justin Dowling added an empty-net goal for Vancouver in the final moments that sent disappointed Seattle fans to the exits, and capped a successful six-game road trip for the Canucks (3-2-1) to begin the season.
“Everyone was excited about tonight,” Horvat said. “It was exciting to play in the first game here and the fans were loud tonight and it made it that much more easy to get up for this game.”
Vince Dunn scored the first goal in Climate Pledge Arena in the closing seconds of the first period, and Mark Giordano gave Seattle a 2-1 lead with his first goal of the season early in the third period. But Seattle couldn’t hold a third-period lead for the second time in its six games.
“It was electric in there, then we got the lead in the third, and it stings,” Giordano said. “There’s no other way to put it right now. It stinks to lose the way we did.”
Thatcher Demko was excellent in goal for Vancouver with 29 saves. He kept the Canucks in the game in the second period when Seattle controlled most of the action but was unable to score.
Philipp Grubauer made 22 saves for Seattle.
“We had in my mind probably three or four Grade-A chances after it was 2-1, so I like that mentality out of our group,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “It didn’t work out tonight, but we’re not going to do anything other than look at the things we can fix and keep pushing on the areas that we were pretty darn good in.”
Opening night under the roof of the reconstructed billion-dollar arena was three years in the making, but even longer for sports fans in the Seattle region who have desperately waited for a winter sports team to return after the departure of the SuperSonics.
Fans were lined up outside Climate Pledge Arena hours before the puck drop and most were in their seats before the Kraken took the ice for warmups. Most were in Kraken jerseys, although a few Canucks fans made their way inside the building for the first matchup of a budding rivalry between neighbors.
Those in Seattle blue had to wait for the final seconds of the first period to finally erupt.
After an extended stretch of possession in the Vancouver zone, the puck was cycled to Dunn. With the period about to end, Dunn flicked a wrist shot past Demko with 4.6 seconds left for the first goal in the new building.
But Demko was not interested in letting the night become one big party for Seattle. Demko was terrific in the second period, especially a sequence late in the period denying Calle Jarnkrok, and barely 60 seconds later stopping Mason Appleton on a breakaway, reaching behind to keep the shot from trickling over the goal line.
“It felt like it was two games in a way … and found a way to win the game in the third,” Vancouver coach Travis Green said.
NOTES: Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke announced before the game that the No. 32 was being retired by the team in honor of becoming the 32nd franchise and the 32,000 season ticket deposits received in early 2018 that helped lead to the awarding of the franchise. … Garland has eight points in his first six games for Vancouver after coming over as part of an offseason trade with Arizona. He’s the first player with a season-opening, six-game point streak to start his tenure with the franchise.
Vancouver: The Canucks open a seven-game homestand on Tuesday night against Minnesota.
Seattle: The Kraken host Montreal on Tuesday night.
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