Seattle Kraken suffer lopsided loss to Penguins

Ted S. Warren/AP
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The announcer couldn’t keep up with the Penguins’ goals.

Jeff Carter 1:47 into the game.

Sidney Crosby at 4:42.

Danton Heinen just 25 seconds later.

One goal overlapped the report of the next. It was a flurry of activity — and none of it good for the Kraken. It took just four shots for Pittsburgh to build a 3-0 lead, and Seattle goaltender Phillip Grubauer was immediately pulled and replaced by back-up Joey Daccord. But there was no saving the Kraken from the early deficit, and they eventually fell to Pittsburgh 6-1 at Climate Pledge Arena on Monday night.

“That can’t happen,” said forward Jordan Eberle. “It’s just that simple.”

Seattle showed a spark of life early in the second period with a goal from Eberle, but Pittsburgh responded with back-to-back goals from Jake Guentzel and Carter just 23 seconds apart. The Kraken entered the second intermission trailing 5-1 before Guentzel added his second goal in the third period to produce the final score.

After the disappointing outing, a recently light-hearted mood gave way to a clipped tone from head coach Dave Hakstol in the post-game press conference.

“We gave up three of the first four shots,” Hakstol said. “That’s indicative of the start of our team.”

The early deficit was an uncomfortable but familiar position for Seattle. The Kraken often played from behind during their six-game losing streak in November, but they had recently turned the tide. Heading into Monday’s game, they had won five of their last seven and registered points in each of their last four games.

“It’s definitely a humbling experience,” Seattle defenseman Jamie Oleksiak said of the loss. “I think we’ve been going well. We just have to get back on track with what’s giving us success and we just got to take it as a learning experience. We got to be ready to go right away and just do the simple things and take it shift by shift.

“Obviously, starts are huge in this league and momentum and whatnot. Our group needs to pride itself on winning those low-scoring games, those tight games. We just got to move forward.”

Against the Penguins, Seattle looked more like the team from a month ago than the one that had recently hit its stride. The Kraken had been starting to make a climb up the standings, but they are now tied for last place in the Pacific Division with the Vancouver Canucks.

“This is simple stuff that we just have to fix,” Eberle said. “Not only that, but it’s just competing right off the opening draw. We know that with (the Penguins), they were going to bring everything. They’re a really good hockey team and you have to go be good with your assignments. You have to be good with the way that you go about it, and you can’t give them a lead because they’re a tough team to come back on. That’s exactly what we did in this game so it’s frustrating, for sure.”

Hakstol pointed to Friday’s 4-3 win over Edmonton as one of the Kraken’s most complete games of the season. Seattle was able to hold on for that victory even playing the final 90 seconds six-on-four. But that performance seemed worlds away on Monday, and Hakstol said that made the loss particularly disappointing.

“It’s not an acceptable way for us to start the hockey game and play throughout the 60 minutes,” Hakstol said. “We all know that. We own that. I’m going to explain more of it away. That’s the reality of it.”

Seattle will now play two more home games — Thursday against Winnipeg and Saturday against Columbus — before heading back on the road.

“We’ll go to work and we’ll work hard in practice and turn the page by doing it, by doing it that way,” Hakstol said. “There’s not a whole lot of talk that needs to be done about this. We got to go back to work. There’s nothing hidden about this one.”