The Seattle Kraken earned an important 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday. It got them back to .500 at 4-4-2 and allowed them to finish their homestand 2-1-0 before heading out on a tough three-game road trip that will span all across the continent.
A couple new dads were the heroes for Seattle, as Martin Jones and Jordan Eberle—each one day removed from the respective births of their sons—played key roles in the win.
Here are our Three Takeaways from Saturday’s Kraken win over the Penguins.
Takeaway #1: Dad strength
We knew both Jones’s and Eberle’s wives—Alex and Lauren—were very close to giving birth, and we wondered how the timing would work out. Not only were both players able to be present for the births of their new babies, but both were back in the lineup Saturday and played huge roles in the victory.
After Seattle fell behind 1-0 at the midway point of the game, Eberle got the Kraken on the board with a goal that actually counted (more on that in Takeaway #2). He got the play started with a good, hard play on the forecheck to pitchfork the puck around to Jaden Schwartz behind the net. Schwartz moved it out front to Matty Beniers, who made an elite pass across the goalmouth to set Eberle up for an easy tap-in goal.
Eberle joked after the game that Schwartz was going to be his new son’s godfather, but with that pass from Beniers, he may have to reconsider. It was Eberle’s first goal of the season, and in the game narrative, it was pivotal.
Jones, meanwhile, was outstanding all game. After giving up four goals on 18 shots Thursday in a 5-4 loss to the Canucks, the Seattle netminder turned away 32 of 33 Penguins offerings Saturday.
“Very special day [Friday], obviously,” Jones said. “And to come out and get a great win today was— yeah, very special.”
His best save of the night came early in the third period with the Kraken on the penalty kill and grasping a tenuous 2-1 lead. Evgeni Malkin found his long-time mate, Sidney Crosby, at the backdoor for what looked like a sure goal. Jones read the play and got across with his left pad to rob one of the best players ever.
“I can’t really control what comes at me there,” Jones said. “I just got to be ready for what does. I was able to come up with a big save early [in the third], and the boys did a great job the rest of the way.”
“He was unbelievable,” Eberle said of Jones. “That was for sure his best game of the year. He made some unbelievable saves, especially late when they were pushing.”
We do not think it was a coincidence that Jones appeared to have a hard time tracking the puck Thursday, a day before the birth of his first child, and was razor sharp Saturday, a day after.
“It’s been a lot, to be honest,” Jones said. “It’s been a roller coaster. Just tried to wrap my head around playing hockey today, and sometimes when you’re not thinking too much, you know— things work out for you, so that might have been the case today.”
This is the second child for Eberle and his wife. His first was born in the throes of the pandemic, when the NHL was on pause. So, he said it was extra special to be able to score a goal the day after his son came into the world.
“When you have kids it puts things into perspective,” Eberle said. “A lot of times you’re known as a hockey player and your highs and lows go by what happens in the rink, but as soon as you have kids, it changes… You’re able to come home to a smile no matter how good or bad the game went.”
The post-game smiles were extra big on Saturday.
Takeaway #2: Kraken overcome two negated goals
After the Kraken had put the puck in the Penguins net three times, they still only had one goal on the board. It looked like Seattle had taken a 1-0 lead at 8:09 of the second period, when Eberle—on a two-on-one with Ryan Donato—made a great play to slide the puck behind Casey DeSmith and onto Donato’s stick at the doorstep.
Donato, returning to the lineup after a couple games as a healthy scratch, appeared to score an easy goal. But Penguins coach Mike Sullivan challenged for offside and won, bringing the game back to scoreless.
Jake Guentzel scored Pittsburgh’s lone goal of the night soon after the negated Donato goal. Seattle responded quickly with an Andre Burakovsky goal, but that one was also negated, thanks to another successful challenge by Sullivan. This one was waived off because replay showed that Alex Wennberg had used a high stick to intercept a Pittsburgh clearing attempt just before the goal.
To Seattle’s credit, it didn’t let the negated goals derail its hopes. Instead, it took all of 10 seconds for the Kraken to finally get one that would count, as Eberle tied the game at 11:20 of the second.
“Getting that third one that finally stuck got the crowd going a lot,” Jones said. “We definitely got some momentum off that one for sure.”
“We just went and played the next shift every— whatever the situation,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s gonna be momentum swings, and tonight, some crazy things happening, you know back and forth in the hockey game, especially with the disallowed goals. But that’s part of the game.”
Takeaway #3 – Fourth line comes through again
Seattle’s fourth line of Morgan Geekie, Brandon Tanev, and Daniel Sprong starred in Seattle’s 5-1 win over Buffalo on Tuesday. With a slightly different look to the bottom trio Saturday, Donato, Geekie, and Sprong played together and again contributed in a big way.
After Vince Dunn (who, by the way, also had his best game of the season) picked off a pass at Seattle’s blue line, he sent Sprong and Geekie the other way on a two-on-one rush. DeSmith stopped Sprong’s shot with his toe, but Geekie drove hard to the net to put away the eventual game-winning goal.
The role played by the fourth line would have been even bigger had Donato’s goal counted.
Having four forward lines that can contribute offensively is a huge boost and will be key to Seattle’s success if it is to remain competitive throughout the season.