TAMPA BAY — For the first time this season, the Kraken could win three in a row.
The last time they won two straight games they ended up on a six-game losing streak. In the two wins since, against two of the best teams in the league in Washington and Carolina, the Kraken have looked like a different team entirely.
The schedule doesn’t let up; the Kraken are dealing with a cross-country back-to-back, starting with a contest on the rink the Tampa Bay Lightning just won their second Stanley Cup on in as many years.
“Nothing much has changed,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said following Friday’s morning skate. “The difference between winning and losing is so slight. We’ve gotten good goaltending and timely saves and our guys have reacted well from that.”
Kraken forward Yanni Gourde was a part of those Stanley Cup teams for the Lightning, and the last time he skated at Amalie Arena, he was raising the Cup after the Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens at home.
The return is a big deal for him, but it’s also a chance for him to help aid his new team into a winning culture.
“We’re still trying to find our identity,” he said. “I think the last few games, we did a better job of managing the puck better, making better decisions. All those little things, blocking shots, doing what it takes to win games. I think at the end of the day if you do that, you’re putting yourself in a good position to win games.”
A win and the Kraken are on the longest winning streak in franchise history at three games. It also sets them up for a good road trip, where they play Florida on Saturday before heading north to face Buffalo and Detroit.
The Kraken started the game behind in each of their six games at home in the recent stretch. They pulled out the last two, including the gutsy one-goal win over the Hurricanes. After traveling all day Thursday, a fast start might be a tough ask, but it might be needed to beat a team like the Lightning.
Projected Kraken lines
Based on Friday’s morning skate:
Marcus Johansson-Alexander Wennberg-Jordan Eberle
Brandon Tanev-Morgan Geekie-Jared McCan
Mason Appleton-Yanni Gourde-Jaden Schwartz
Ryan Donato-Colin Blackwell-Joonas Donskoi
Jamie Oleksiak-Mark Giordano
Carson Soucy-Vince Dunn
Jeremy Lauzon-Adam Larsson
- Hakstol said Blackwell and Donato will rotate in at center.
- Hakstol didn’t have an update on Calle Jarnkrok, who was injured in the third period of Wednesday’s game against the Hurricanes.
- Philipp Grubauer will start in net for the third consecutive game.
Time/place: 4 p.m. PT, Amalie Arena.
TV: ROOT Sports.
Radio: KJR-AM (950).
About the Lightning
This season: 11-4-3 (last game: 4-0 win over Philadelphia)
Player to watch: Steven Stamkos
Notes: The Lightning are missing Erik Cernak, Brayden Point, and Nikita Kucherov. … Tampa Bay has won the past two Stanley Cups. … The Lightning have the fifth most penalty minutes in the league at 209. … At 86%, the Lightning have the sixth-best penalty kill in the NHL.