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Recap: Quick strikes help Pittsburgh blow out the Kraken, 6-1

Jeff Carter and Jake Guentzel score two goals a piece as the Pens overwhelm the Seattle Kraken in the first meeting of these teams

Pittsburgh Penguins v Seattle Kraken Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Pregame

Same lineup for the Penguins, but they give Casey DeSmith the start for the first ever Pens/Kraken game.

First period

Seattle has been stymied by subpar goaltending all season, and that reared it’s ugly head early as the Pens scored three times before the first television timeout.

The first goal 1:47 belonged to Big Jeff Carter and it wasn’t even a shot at all when his centering pass went off Philipp Grubauer and into the net. A nice bit of goal luck and regression for the Penguins as of late.

Then 4:47 in, it was Sidney Crosby’s turn to record a goal in his 38th different NHL venue. Evan Rodrigues was taking the faceoff on his strong side, but got kicked out by the refs so Crosby had to take the draw. He won it back clean and on a set play Jake Guentzel rotated back to space to get a shot away. It slipped behind Grubauer and Crosby was there to tap it into the net. 2-0 Pens.

Just 26 seconds later, Danton Heinen provided an early kill shot. Getting plenty of room to operate, Heinen skated to the net and released a shot. It clicked off a Kraken defender and poor Grubauer didn’t know what hit him to give up three goals in 5:07 and get pulled.

25-year old rookie Joey Daccord hits the ice as the Kraken just look to find a pulse in this game.

They do settle down, with Daccord making a great stop on another Carter shot that really would have blown the gates open. Shots in the first are 10-8 SEA.

The only negative in that period was Jake Guentzel took a shot off the hand in the defensive zone. He shook his hand and stayed on the bench but didn’t seem to play afterwards.

Second period

No Crosby to start the period on the bench, but he’s able to take a shift 1:30 in, possible equipment issue. And fortunately Guentzel is in his customary spot for the top line’s first shift.

The Kraken are playing well and the Pens already seem in coast mode. Zach Aston-Reese trips a player and a delayed penalty is called and it looks like all the Pens players just kinda stopped playing. Bad move, Seattle does not stop playing and Alex Wennberg makes a pass over for Jordan Eberle to have an easy finish. 3-1 game.

Next shift, Seattle keeps up the pressure and this time there is a penalty called when Mike Matheson goes on a minor for high-sticking. The Pens get the best chance, with Teddy Blueger having a full breakaway. Daccord makes a great stop on his five hole attempt.

Just when it looked like the game was settling down to get to intermission, the Penguins’ quick strike ability jumped back to get two more goals, both coming with odd man rushes.

The fourth Pittsburgh goal was scored on a 2-on-1 with Evan Rodrigues feeding Jake Guentzel. Guentzel didn’t one time the puck, taking one touch to settle and then snapping a shot over the sprawling Daccord to make it a 4-1 game.

Just 23 seconds later the visitors put an exclamation point on the proceedings with a 3-on-1 rush. Heinen’s pass to Kris Letang resulted in a shot that Daccord stopped, but a rebound was left sitting for Carter to poke in his second goal of the night, off a friendly bounce off the skate of Jamie Oleksiak. 5-1 Pittsburgh.

Shots in the second were 13-9 Pittsburgh, who explode at the end of the period to put this game out of reach.

Third period

Brandon Tanev hounds Matheson on the forecheck, which seems unfair and causes a turnover. DeSmith cleans it up with a couple saves in tight, and almost forgot he was playing there for a moment. Not a ton of action for DeSmith but he’s been sharp when called on.

Evan Rodrigues sneaks behind the defense and gets a nice pass from Guentzel but the puck rolls off his stick late into a shift. Not the best breakaway attempt ever, but up big it’s not a worry.

Guentzel just flexing on ‘em now, Rodrigues rushes the puck up the ice, cuts to the middle and throws a backhand saucer pass over to Jake. The puck hits Guentzel’s skate but he calmly just adjusts, pulls his stick back and just kinda hacks at it. That’s making the difficult sound easy because that quick, simple hack was a laser to the top corner of the net. 6-1 is the score on Guentzel’s second goal of the night.

The damage is done, the Pens don’t coast with the top line and then Zucker playing hard to the whistle and trying to go for even more damage. Alas, they have to settle for a 6-1 win.

Some thoughts

  • Make it a 13-game point streak for Guentzel with his assist on the Crosby goal, and then he tacked on two goals of his own. The game looks really, really easy for Guentzel right now, who is performing at a tremendous level.
  • It’s also a six point streak for Crosby who is finding ways to get back on the board with two points in this game.
  • In the battle against the Pens’ NHL worst finishing against the Kraken’s league worst goaltending, well, the resistible force overcame the moveable object. Great to see Pittsburgh get a little puck luck for once and find the back of the net.
  • Also thought there was some good killer instinct early by the team too. The first goal was fluky but also seemed to fuel confidence and set a great tone early that the Pens built on.
  • And the bounces helped a lot, especially on both of Carter’s goals. That helped the Pens to get to the 5 goal level for the first time since a 6-0 win against Montreal on November 18th. After starting the year hot with 5+ goals in three of the first five games of the season, it has been a real struggle for Pittsburgh to fill the net. But when the good luck visits, it often does so in bunches and did in this game.
  • Speaking of Carter, he got some luck but also made his luck by getting to the dirty areas. Also, kinda telling that Carter has come to life offensively lately after Kapanen was moved off his line and Heinen was put there. Kapanen hasn’t really found a spot yet this season where it’s looked like he has fit. Carter+Heinen has gotten results.
  • Jordan Eberle scored his 18th career goal against the Pens, his first game back from injury tonight. The dude just loves to score against Pittsburgh, and fortunately now he’s way out west.
  • Nice for DeSmith to get his first win of the season tonight. He basically had a three goal lead right from the beginning and just had to not be the story of blowing it and went along to quietly do his job well.
  • Lots of rushes for the Pens, they were able to use speed and open up the Kraken defense in transition all game long. From the preview, Seattle has been a team to clamp down in both directions, they don’t have the firepower to go toe-to-toe with the Pens. The way this game unfolded was never going to go in their favor to give up a bunch of Grade A chances and have their defense fold so much, with sub-standard goaltending that’s not bailing them out of anything right now.
  • Crosby’s two points ties him with Dave Andreychuk and Denis Savard for 30th all-time in points. Dumoulin also notched his 100th career point tonight as the milestones keep falling.
  • Random thought: you have years to establish and plan and build your NHL expansion franchise and you....make Dave Hakstol the head coach? Oy. Seattle had many a questionable decision in their roster construction but the coaching decision might be the biggest one too.
  • That wraps up a 2-1-1 road trip out west for Pittsburgh, and finishing strong with two wins.

After this long road trip, the Pens can return back home, but only for a short period as they will have to depart for a game in Washington on Friday night against the first place Capitals.