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Philipp Grubauer earns the shutout as Kraken keep it rolling against Penguins

Kate Shefte, The Seattle Times on

Published in Hockey

SEATTLE — Goaltender Philipp Grubauer, making his first back-to-back starts since Dec. 7-9, made a one-goal lead stand up longer than it had any business doing, and the Seattle Kraken eked out a 2-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night at Climate Pledge Arena.

They’ve secured at least one standings point in six of their past seven games.

Grubauer made 33 saves and secured his first regular-season shutout since the Kraken’s inaugural campaign — Feb. 2, 2022.

For the second straight season, the Kraken gladly handed their backup goaltender the keys during the first half of the season while Grubauer was injured. Joey Daccord backstopped what was easily the most successful run of the season in December and January, but he’s looked shaky at times since the All-Star break. Daccord was pulled from his most recent start Saturday after stopping just nine of 13 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Grubauer rounded back into form while serving as Daccord’s backup, and now looks to be inching toward the starting role again.

The Kraken’s lone All-Star hadn’t scored in more than two weeks since the break for the league’s annual event, but Oliver Bjorkstrand now has goals in consecutive games. He had his eye to the rafters, tracking a popped-up puck and batting it out of midair, past Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry (26 saves).

 

That was just 12:25 into the game, and no goal insurance arrived until less than five minutes remained. Alex Wennberg toe-tapped a loose puck to himself and scored on a Kraken power play with assists to Kailer Yamamoto and Eeli Tolvanen.

That made it a two-point night for Wennberg, who had the primary assist on Bjorkstrand’s earlier goal. The latter was his 100th point with the Kraken.

Pittsburgh took the first six shots on goal as the Kraken were slow to get going. Seattle let Grubauer stay busy, but kept his sightlines clear during a second-period power pay that never seemed to end. Grubauer turned aside slap shops from Sidney Crosby, Erik Karlsson and Kris Letang, and in between, blocked Rickard Rakell on a spinning backhand from close range. Rakell’s was the best chance of the bunch.

Seattle defenseman Justin Schultz went down to fend off a Pittsburgh give-and-go but the pass made it through cleanly and Grubauer had to suck in a Jansen Harkins chip from feet away while sliding. His work wasn’t done, however.

As the puck disappeared into the goalie’s pads, Kraken defenseman Brian Dumoulin’s stick came up and caught Harkins in the face. Dumoulin served the high-sticking penalty against his longtime former team and Grubauer turned aside three more shots. Adam Larsson and Yanni Gourde halved that total, blocking three shots between them.


©2024 The Seattle Times. Visit seattletimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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