Of course, it had to turn out this way.
Boosted by the emotional charge of fatherhood, Martin Jones and Jordan Eberle – who each celebrated a newborn son the day prior, made a major impact in a significant 3-1 victory for the Seattle Kraken over the Pittsburgh Penguins, before a sellout crowd at Climate Pledge Arena on Saturday night.
Jones, became a father when his wife, Alex, delivered son Rory on Friday. Jones promptly dispatched the Penguins with a virtuoso 32 save performance including a showstopping save on a two-on-one break against Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
Eberle, who had an apparent assist wiped off the board due to an offside review in the second period, responded after another overturned goal to tie the game on a rebound effort for his 14th goal in 31 career games against the Penguins. He and wife, Lauren, welcomed their second child and son, Deacon, past 7pm on Friday night at home.
“Guys on the bench did a good job of holding their poise and going back out there the very next shift,” said head coach Dave Hakstol.
The Kraken finished 2-1 on the homestand, with Jones in net for each victory this season to lift the team’s record to 4-4-2 (10 points). Pittsburgh fell to 4-4-1 (9 points) and lost four of five games on their road trip.
1. The Martin Jones game: With the anticipation and milestone of childbirth now in the rear-view mirror (Jordan Eberle told 93.3 KJR-FM he called his first “nerve wracking”), Jones settled in and delivered arguably his finest performance of the season, a vintage effort akin to success he enjoyed with the San Jose Sharks. Jones delivered two game-defining saves in the third period, first on the Crosby blast on a two-on-one, then robbed Crosby on the doorstep in a bid to tie the game with less than two minutes left in regulation. Pittsburgh outchanced the Kraken, 7-0 in high danger opportunities in the third period. Jones’ effort was well deserved of a second star performance, and an indication of where the Kraken can go with Saturday night’s results.
2. Resolve. It’s what gets you though: The Pittsburgh Penguins are a well-coached, well-oiled, and well-run operation that makes any team sweat any given night. Three Stanley Cup titles in the last 13 years have something to do with that. That sweat became more present in the second period when the Kraken mettle was tested following an overturned goal to Ryan Donato (video review confirmed the play was offside), denying a tie game. An apparent Andre Burakovsky rebound was turned back for a high stick, giving the Kraken two chances to mentally fold. They opted for the opposite, injecting energy when Eberle tied it, and taking the building’s emotional volume to a new level on Morgan Geekie’s rebound to give the Kraken a lead they would not relinquish.
3. Kraken not jaded, because Jaden: Can you imagine the fortunes for the Kraken offense with not just Matty Beniers, Burakovsky, Oliver Bjorkstrand, but with a healthy Jaden Schwartz? He logged another goal and an assist on Saturday night, providing further foundation with Beniers and Eberle. Schwartz has back-to-back multi point games, has been involved with generating scoring chances (his ten high danger chances are tied for the Kraken lead with Alex Wennberg, per naturalstattrick.com) and has taken over the Kraken lead with ten points in ten games.
The Kraken move onto another stern test – the Calgary Flames – to open a three-game road trip on Tuesday night at 6pm PT (93.3 KJR-FM / Kraken Audio Network).