The last time the Seattle Kraken and Florida Panthers met, the country was just past Thanksgiving, and the Kraken had one of the most satisfying wins under their belt.
It came on Panthers home ice, where Florida is 21-3 this season.
The challenge to duplicate the same result tonight, when the Panthers visit for the only time this regular season in Seattle at 6pm, will come with different parameters.
The Kraken, playing on the back end of three games in four days, currently are without the goaltender (former Panther Chris Driedger) who helped seize that win. They’re also attempting to stop a Panthers team that is 10-1-1 in the last 12 games and is second in the league at over four goals scored per game.
“We’ve got some good wins at home but last game was a little bit of a disappointment,” said Kraken forward and former Panther Alex Wennberg. “But what’s good about this league, is you get a new opportunity the next day. Right now, we’re playing a really good team today, but we’re excited about the challenge.”
Philipp Grubauer, who has won his last two starts with a .928 save percentage, will start in net tonight for the Kraken against Sergei Bobrovsky, a two-time winner of the Vezina Trophy who is sixth this year in the NHL with a .926 save percentage.
The Kraken will be looking to bounce back from a tough Friday night after taking a 5-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues, the second time they’ve been shut out this season. They did not practice on Saturday, typically a day utilized to rest for physical preparation with the Kraken playing eight games in 13 days, which started Thursday.
“As I look back at (the St. Louis game) there was fatigue in our game, we tried to battle and worked to battle through,” said Hakstol. “With day off ice yesterday, just come back and competitively be ourselves.”
Hakstol said defenseman Jeremy Lauzon will return to the lineup tonight after sitting out Friday night as a healthy scratch, with further lineup adjustments to be firmed up closer to puck drop.
Jamie Oleksiak, who has missed the last two games with a non-COVID-19 related illness, is still day-to-day for his recovery.
Joonas Donskoi, still searching for his first goal of the season but has not missed a game while still chipping in with 14 assists (tied for second on the Kraken), was on the ice for morning skate but not a part of featured line rushes.
The Panthers, tied with Tampa Bay for 61 points for the top record in the NHL and beat the Canucks 2-1 in a shootout on Friday, are led by Jonathan Huberdeau’s 55 points, a league leading 40 assists, and Anthony Duclair’s 17 goals.
“This is a team that gets up and goes,” said Hakstol. “They have a ton of offense especially on transition and entry into the offensive zone. We have to do a good job of slowing that speed down through the middle.”
Radio broadcast coverage, on the Kraken Audio Network, will be carried by 102.5 KZOK-FM with live action joined in progress on 950 AM KJR upon the completion of NFL Playoff coverage.