Philipp Grubauer Posts First Shutout Of Season As Kraken Topple Penguins 2-0

Seattle Kraken right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand (22) celebrates after his goal as Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph (73) looks on during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)
Seattle Kraken right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand (22) celebrates after his goal as Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph (73) looks on during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)
View All (8)

SEATTLE (AP) — Philipp Grubauer wasn't kidding when he noted it had been a while since his last shutout. Almost two years to be exact.

This one came at the right time to try to keep the Seattle Kraken in the playoff conversation with the trade deadline approaching.

Grubauer made 33 saves and posted his first shutout of the season, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Alex Wennberg scored and the Kraken beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 on Thursday night.

Grubauer was terrific for the second straight game and recorded the 21st regular-season shutout of his career. It was his first since April 7, 2022, against Chicago.

“It’s been a while for myself, but obviously it’s more important to get those points than to get the shutout. ... It’s huge for the team, too, because everybody played their part,” Grubauer said.

Seattle picked up a crucial two points in its attempt to stay relevant in the Western Conference wild-card race and with next week’s trade deadline drawing closer. The Kraken have won three of their last four and have points in six of their past seven games.

Pittsburgh had its three-game win streak snapped and remained seven points behind Philadelphia in the division race and eight points back of Tampa Bay for the wild card. The Penguins have games in hand over both teams and the chance to make up points, but the loss stemmed the momentum gained after a comeback overtime victory in Vancouver earlier this week.

“I think this time of the year that’s what we have to go for; a lot of teams are playing defense a lot stiffer and I think you’re going to see a lot more lower scoring games just with how tight the conference and the divisions are,” said Pittsburgh's Tristan Jarry, who made 26 saves in the loss.

Grubauer showed up in a big way earlier this week when Seattle topped Boston in a shootout victory, including saves on all three attempts in the shootout. He was tested right away by the Penguins, turning away 18 shots in the first period alone, including a terrific stop on Jeff Carter midway through the period. Carter skated in his 1,300th career game, becoming the sixth active player to hit the milestone.

Grubauer continued to stay solid in the second period, including a key stop on Jansen Harkins, and Seattle was able to limit dangerous attempts in the third period. Pittsburgh had just five shots on Grubauer in the final 20 minutes.

Pittsburgh was shut out for the third time this season and first since Dec. 16 against Toronto.

“Our goaltending has been a big factor for us and both guys have done a great job and, obviously, tonight (Grubauer) with the shutout, he should be proud of his effort,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said.

Bjorkstrand scored for the second straight game following a 15-game stretch during which Seattle’s All-Star representative managed just one goal and six assists. He swatted a puck out of the air and past Jarry at 12:25 of the first for his 15th goal.

Wennberg added his ninth goal off a scramble in front of the Pittsburgh net during a Seattle power play at 15:02 of the third period.

“I feel like the third period we were determined to win this game, and that's all that matters,” Wennberg said.

UP NEXT

Penguins: At Calgary on Saturday.

Kraken: Host Edmonton on Saturday.

___

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl