Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (4-3-1, 9 points, 4th place Metropolitan Division) @ Seattle Kraken (3-4-2, 8 points, 4th place Pacific Division)
When: 10:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, Root Sports Northwest for those in the Seattle area, Sling TV
Opponent Track: Like the Penguins, the Kraken just lost to the Vancouver Canucks. Seattle earned the honor of giving the Canucks their first win of the season on Thursday, when a third-period baseball goal from Elias Patterson made the difference in a 5-4 regulation loss. The Kraken are still looking to string two consecutive wins together in this early season.
Pens Path Ahead: Losing games and players has turned the Penguins’ West coast road trip into a bit of a slog. After facing the Kraken, the team will finally get the chance to reset at home. Next week, the Penguins will begin their third consecutive set of back-to-back games by taking on the Bruins on Tuesday and Sabres on Wednesday.
Season Series: After next week’s back-to-back set, the Penguins will finish out this season series on Friday when the Kraken arrive at PPG Paints Arena. Last season, the two teams split the series, with the Penguins claiming a blowout 6-1 win in Seattle before losing 2-1 in overtime at home.
Getting to know the Kraken
André Burakovsky - Alexander Wennberg - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Jaden Schwartz - Matthew Beniers - Jordan Eberle
Jared McCann - Yanni Gourde - Karson Kuhlman
Brandon Tanev - Morgan Geekie - Daniel Strong
Vince Dunn / Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak / Justin Schultz
Carson Soucy / William Borgen
Goalies: Martin Jones, Joey Daccord
Scratches: Cale Fleury, Ryan Donato, Shane Wright
IR: Philipp Grubauer, Joonas Donskoi, Ryan Winterton, Chris Driedger
Good goaltending is hard to find
Goaltending was a sore spot in a tough 2021-22 for Seattle. In the first year of a $6.25 million contract, starter Philipp Grubauer ranked last (among goaltenders who played at least 30 games) with a .889 save percentage.
Grubauer told Kate Shefte at the Seattle Times he was ready to learn and adjust from his mistakes last year.
He hasn’t quite gotten that chance. An injury knocked Grubauer from the Kraken’s game last Friday and sent him to the injured reserve.
New Kraken member Martin Jones stepped in after the third-period injury and secured the victory with a single save— not a bad way to earn career win No. 200. But Jones was quickly exposed during his first start in Grubauer’s absence, when he gave up a third-period lead to the Chicago Blackhawks by allowing two goals in just 13 seconds last Sunday.
Today, the Penguins will either be facing Jones, who just started three games in a span of five days, or backup Joey Daccord, who was called up from the AHL when Grubauer went down.
Daccord made a few appearances with the Kraken last season but spent most of the campaign in the AHL, where his .925% SV% for Charlotte tied for second in the league.
Can the Kraken score? Yes they McCann
Only four teams scored fewer goals than the Kraken last season, but they’ve been near the top of the NHL’s scoring list this year with 30 goals in nine games.
Who’s leading that charge? None other than former Penguin Jared McCann. McCann is off to one of the best starts of his eight-year career with eight points (five goals, three assists) in nine games.
He’s heading into the Saturday contest with goals in four consecutive games. If he can mark the scoresheet against the Penguins, it will be the longest scoring streak of his career.
Goals in 4️⃣ straight games for Jared McCann! pic.twitter.com/pWx58b48Qi— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 28, 2022
What happened to Shane Wright?
2022 fourth overall pick Shane Wright, who made headlines when the Canadiens passed him over at No. 1, has spent the Kraken’s last two games as a healthy scratch.
Wright has one assist in five games, during which he averaged under seven minutes of ice time. He has seen no power play time. He has never played more than 11 shifts.
The Kraken did add offensive talent this offseason, including Cup champion Andre Burakovsky and 28-goal-scorer Oliver Bjorkstrand, but head coach Dave Hakstol’s decision to almost entirely bench one of the franchise’s most exciting young players is puzzling.
Will Wright get another chance against the Penguins, or will Wright need to spend some time in the minors to get some ice time?
And now for the Pens...
Potential Game Lines
Rickard Rakell - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen - Evgeni Malkin - Jeff Carter
Brock McGinn - Sam Poulin - Kasperi Kapanen
Drake Cagguila - Ryan Poehling - Josh Archibald
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Jeff Petry
P.O. Joseph (Chad Ruhwedel) / Jan Rutta
Goalies: Casey DeSmith (Tristan Jarry started last night)
Scratches: Jake Guentzel (upper body injury), Jason Zucker (injury)
IR: Teddy Blueger (LTIR)
- Jason Zucker attended the Penguins’ optional Friday morning skate in a no-contact jersey, so it’s unlikely he will rejoin the team on Saturday.
- Jake Guentzel wore a regular jersey during the optional skate, but sat out his fourth straight game for the Penguins on Friday. Still, his presence during practice is encouraging to see.
Guentzel on taking contact for the first time today: "I feel good. It's exciting to get back out there and take some contact and be out there with the guys. You never want to be away, so it's nice to be back." pic.twitter.com/70MZu2JMVS— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 28, 2022
- After scratching P.O. Joseph against the Flames, the Penguins slotted him back in on Friday in place of Chad Ruhwedel. Was his performance on Saturday solid enough to help him keep the spot?
Sullivan on scratching Joseph vs. CGY: "There were a number of reasons why we made that decision, but it's not a reflection of what we think of P.O's game or how he's performed. We've really liked P.O's progress, and I think he's getting more comfortable with every game."— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) October 27, 2022
- Backup goaltender Casey DeSmith, who will be starting as Tristan Jarry rests, is still looking for his first win of the season.
- An extra-long post-practice chat following the back-to-back losses to Edmonton and Calgary wasn’t enough to force the Penguins into desperation mode— the team saw another slow first-period start on Friday, which sunk them into a two-goal deficit they never overcame. Maybe three straight losses will do it?