Penguins' Jake Guentzel faces Kraken with both on hot streaks
The Seattle Kraken might be near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, but they've fared relatively well against teams from the East.
Looking to extend their point streak to five games, the host Kraken aim to take down another perennial East power in red-hot Jake Guentzel and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night.
Seattle has 20 points through 24 games, but 14 of them and six of its first nine victories have come against Eastern Conference opponents. Perhaps most notable, three of those wins were against Washington, Carolina and Florida -- all Stanley Cup contenders.
The expansion Kraken, however, stayed within their own conference to win 4-3 over West Cup-contender Edmonton on Friday. Four different players scored and seven others recorded assists for Seattle, which has totaled 25 goals during a current 5-1-1 stretch -- where it's earned seven points in the last four contests.
"Whoever's in this lineup on any given night has to go out and provide something that helps this team win," Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said.
Yanni Gourde scored his sixth goal of the season Friday, giving him eight points over his last seven contests. Meanwhile, Kraken teammate Alex Wennberg notched his third of the season to extend his point streak to three games after going without one for six in a row.
"I think we're getting a lot of great efforts from up and down the lineup," Colin Blackwell, who also scored Friday for the Kraken, told The Seattle Times.
"We really kind of got that identity rolling right now, and all four lines are doing pretty well."
Seattle has also received strong goaltending from Philipp Grubauer, who stopped 29 shots on Friday to improve to 3-1-1 with a 2.37 goals-against average in his last five starts. The former member of the Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche has a 2.29 GAA while going 2-0-1 as a starter against the Penguins.
Teammate Chris Driedger has stopped 65 of 70 shots he's faced while winning back-to-back starts. While with Florida, Driedger made 31 saves during a 4-1 victory over the Penguins in January 2020.
Whomever is in the Seattle net should be prepared to see a lot of Guentzel, who has recorded 10 of his team-leading 13 goals during a current point steak he extended to 12 games (longest active in the NHL) after posting his fourth career hat trick with an assist during Saturday's 4-1 win at Vancouver. He's also registered at least one point in each of his 11 road games (10 goals, six assists) to open the 2021-22 campaign.
"Pretty lucky goals there," Guentzel, a 40-goal scorer in 2018-19, told AT&T SportsNet. "Just trying to throw the puck on the net and see what happens. ... I'll take them."
More importantly for the Penguins, Saturday's result halted an 0-2-1 rut. Pittsburgh is 6-3-3 on the road.
Tristan Jarry saved 22 of the 23 shots he faced against the Canucks. Jarry has an 0.91 GAA and .963 save percentage during his current 6-1-1 stretch. However, he could give way to backup Casey DeSmith (0-3-1, 4.33 GAA this season) for this contest.
While with Tampa Bay, Gourde has totaled four goals with two assists over nine regular-season games against the Penguins.
--Field Level Media
Updated December 5, 2021