Who: Seattle Kraken (6-4-2, 14 points, 3rd place Pacific Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (4-5-2, 10 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, Root Sports Northwest for those in the Seattle area, Sling TV
Opponent Track: After beating the Penguins one week ago, Seattle stacked together its first winning streak of the season. On Tuesday, the Kraken erased a two-goal third-period deficit to the Flames in Calgary by putting up three unanswered strikes in a 5-4 comeback win. On Thursday, Martin Jones made 22 saves in a 4-0 shutout of the Wild in Minnesota.
Pens Path Ahead: The Penguins have a busy week ahead. After taking on the Capitals in Washington on Wednesday, they will head to Canada for a back-to-back set against the Maple Leafs and Canadiens.
Season Series: One week ago, Jake Guentzel opened scoring in his return from a slapshot-to-the-ear injury, but the Penguins only held onto the lead for one minute and 15 seconds before the Kraken struck back on their way to a 3-1 win in Seattle. The Pens will look to even out the score in today’s season series finale.
Getting to know the Kraken
SB Nation counterpart: Davy Jones Locker Room
Andre Burakovsky - Alexander Wennberg - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Jaden Schwartz - Matthew Beniers - Jordan Eberle
Yanni Gourde - Shane Wright - Brandon Tanev
Ryan Donato - Morgan Geekie - Daniel Sprong
Vince Dunn / Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak / Justin Schultz
Carson Soucy / William Borgen
Goalies: Martin Jones (Joey Daccord)
Scratches: Karson Kuhlman, Jared McCann (day-to-day injury), Cale Fleury
IR: Joonas Donskoi, Philipp Grubauer (lower body, week to week), Chris Driedger (ACL, out until at least January)
- The Kraken are on an opposite trajectory from the Penguins right now. After losing four of their first six games, they have won four of the last six. That has coincided with an uptick in goaltending from Martin Jones in the absence of injured starter Philipp Grubauer.
- Daniel Sprong and Brandon Tanev both recorded assists against the Penguins during the 3-1 loss in Seattle last Saturday, but there are plenty of ex-Penguins who have yet to get their lick in. Who knows, maybe we’ll catch Jamie Oleksiak or Justin Schultz on the scoresheet this time. Meanwhile, Jared McCann looks like he’ll be a game-time decision.
- The Kraken have 20 different players with a goal— that’s the most spread-out scoring in the NHL. It’s a wildly different look for the team consistently at the bottom of the heap in scoring last season. As alternate captain Yanni Gourde put it:
“I think we have so much more confidence in this group. Last year was last year, this year we have confidence in this group and we know we can rally back, and we know we have the skills to do it.”
Speaking of Gourde, he’s a skater the Penguins will need to watch out for on the power play.
Head to head
The Penguins once again win out on 5v5 possession stats— although you probably didn’t need to be told they are having trouble stifling even-strength goals against.
In terms of special teams, both teams will be looking to get their power plays going in a battle between two of the league’s worst penalty kills.
Always beware a small sample size, but Seattle’s goaltending has done much better than their bright-red ranking over the last week— Martin Jones has blocked 54 of the 55 shots he faced over his last two starts.
Penguins’ goaltending has not been quite that inspiring as of late. This might be connected to the fact that the Kraken have so far been one of best shot-suppressing teams in the NHL (they’re averaging 26.9 against per game) while the Penguins are becoming one of the most porous (only three teams are allowing more than the Penguins’ average of 35.5 shots against.)
And now for the Pens...
Potential Game Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Danton Heinen - Teddy Blueger - Kasperi Kapanen
Brock McGinn - Ryan Poehling - Josh Archibald
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Jeff Petry
P.O. Joseph / Jan Rutta
Goalies: Casey DeSmith (Tristan Jarry started last night)
Scratches: Jeff Carter (day-to-day injury), Chad Ruhwedel, Sam Poulin, Drew O’Connor
IR: None, if Teddy Blueger returns
- Jake Guentzel missed practice on Friday (out sick). We saw this recently with Kris Letang, so there’s potential Guentzel will be out tomorrow night, in which case Heinen might jump up to his spot while Poulin or O’Connor slots into the lineup. Meanwhile, Josh Archibald took a maintenance day and Jeff Carter is out with an unspecified day-to-day injury.
- Ron Hextall said on Wednesday the team is hoping for Teddy Blueger’s return Saturday. He went on LTIR on October 11, so he is now eligible to make his season debut. If he comes today, he would bump O’Connor from the third line.
- Speaking of line changes... it was somewhat surprising to see the Crosby-Rust and Malkin-Rakell line combinations, and the same defensive pairings, in effect at practice on Friday. Some line shuffling might be called for to shake the Penguins out of their downward spiral.
- P.O Joseph, Jan Rutta and Chad Ruhwedel were once again rotating through the last defense pairing at Friday practice.
- Is it too early to be looking at playoff implications? It’s only Game No. 12, after all. But the smart people at MoneyPuck, who have the Penguins as a favorite to win tonight, listed this as a “pretty important” game in terms of playoff odds.
Milestone and streak watch
- Crosby is one assist away from No. 900. If he can get an apple within the next four games, he’ll be the sixth-fastest player to reach the milestone in NHL history.
- For the third time in his career, Josh Archibald has goals in back-to-back games. If he scored tonight, it would mark his longest ever scoring streak.
- Brian Dumoulin is one assist away from No. 100. He would be the 13th defenseman in Penguins history to set up 100 goals for the team.
- Jason Zucker is two points away from No. 300. He would be the 19th player from the 2010 NHL Draft to score 300.