Just one week separates the Seattle Kraken and Pittsburgh Penguins from meeting at Climate Pledge Arena.
They’ll do it again tonight, this time on home ice of the Penguins, 4pm PT (93.3. KJR / Kraken Audio Network). The Kraken know with a 6-4-2 record which has them in position to run the table for a three-game road trip, the secrets about them are becoming few and far between.
They also know the Penguins, at 0-5-1 in the last six games, may come out of the opening puck drop with the ferocity of a cornered animal.
“We’re familiar with how they play,” Jordan Eberle said.
“They’ve been getting talked about in the media. I’ve been through it on the other side of it. It’s never fun. You come out with a lot of grit and a lot of energy. You know with the players they have, the skill and hall of famers, they’re going to be ready to go. We’re going to have to try and match that.”
The Kraken beat Pittsburgh 3-1 in Seattle last Saturday, effectively keeping Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin under lock and key for 60 minutes behind a strong and responsive second period, and a 32-save effort from Martin Jones, one night after becoming a father to newborn son, Rory.
Matty Beniers assisted on Eberle’s second period goal to get the rally going, and Beniers, who leads NHL rookies in scoring, celebrates his 20th birthday today.
The Penguins came home limping and haven’t won since they started the season at 4-0-1, most recently coming off a 6-3 loss to Buffalo on Wednesday. Teddy Blueger and Jeff Carter won’t play, nursing injuries that have kept Blueger out for 11 games, and two for Carter.
Beyond that, head coach Mike Sullivan, perhaps in an act of frustration, refused to confirm anyone else in the lineup and called everyone’s status “a game time decision.”
The Penguins penalty kill has struggled out of the gate, allowing a goal in nine of their first 11 games while ranking 29th in the NHL.
“It’s been a work in progress getting guys on the same page,” Sullivan said of the Penguins penalty kill, installing newcomers such as Jeff Petry, Jan Rutta, and Ryan Poehling.
“Some of the concepts are different than where they’ve come from. So, there’s always that adjustment process. We’re working through that right now.”
They have been run over on the road, though more electric at home with a 3-0-1 start while averaging a whopping five goals per game. The Boston Bruins needed to hang six on the scoreboard to beat the Penguins in overtime for their first home loss, Nov. 1.
Martin Jones will start in net for the Kraken, seeking their first four game win streak in franchise history.
Jared McCann, a former Penguin who missed Thursday’s win at Minnesota, is day-to-day with a lower body ailment. Hakstol said the Kraken will ice a similar lineup to Thursday night.