COLUMBUS, Ohio — It has been a season of firsts for the Kraken.

Thursday was the first win, a victory in Nashville after surviving a third-period onslaught of shots. On Saturday, in the franchise’s first game at Columbus, the Kraken could begin its first winning streak.

With Saturday against the Blue Jackets (4:00 p.m. PT, ROOT Sports) and then back-to-back games at Philadelphia and New Jersey to end the road trip, it has been a difficult trip. Add in the players who entered COVID-19 protocols at the beginning that nearly put a damper on the opening game, and Seattle has had quite the intro to the NHL.

“We’re in the middle of (five games in eight days); those are the things that are challenging,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “We lost a tough one in Vegas, we were able to bounce back and win a game in another tough building in Nashville the next night. … Those are things to build on and can help bring it together.”

The Kraken’s offense has been stronger than what the Arizona Coyotes showed Thursday against Columbus, but Seattle recognizes the effort that will be necessary against Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins.

“They got great goaltending,” Kraken forward Morgan Geekie said. “But I think if we can start creating those high-danger chances on the inside of the ice, I think we’ll be all right.”

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The Kraken’s seven goals this season trail just Vegas and Columbus — which scored all eight in its first game — and is tied with Vancouver. The offense has been there, despite question marks and last-minute scrambles at forward.

Whether it will still be there, and if the Kraken players will still have their legs in the middle of a five-game road trip to start the season are the questions for Saturday night.

Projected Kraken lines

Seattle is likely to line up like this Saturday night:

Forwards:

Jaden Schwartz-Jared McCann-Jordan Eberle
Alex Barre-Boulet-Alex Wennberg-Joonas Donskoi
Brandon Tanev-Morgan Geekie-Ryan Donato
Nathan Bastian-Riley Sheahan-Mason Appleton

Defense:
Jamie Oleksiak-Adam Larsson
Mark Giordano-Haydn Fleury
Jeremy Lauzon-Carson Soucy

Notes

  • Defenseman Vince Dunn is out Saturday night because of an undisclosed injury, Hakstol said, so Haydn Fleury returns to the lineup for the first time since the Kraken was in Las Vegas. Hakstol didn’t elaborate on Dunn’s injury.
  • Philipp Grubauer will get the start in net for a third consecutive game.

About the Blue Jackets

This season: 1-0-0 (8-2 win over Arizona, Oct. 14)

Player to watch: Oliver Bjorkstrand (2 goals, 2 assists)

Notes: Elvis Merzlikins starts in net for the Blue Jackets after earning the win against the Coyotes on Thursday. … Columbus scored just 137 goals last season, the third-fewest in the NHL. … The only Columbus lineup change from Thursday is defender Scott Harrington in the lineup in place of Dean Kukan.

Blue Jackets lines:

Forwards:
Laine-Texier-Voracek
Nyquist-Roslovic-Bjorkstrand
Jenner-Sillinger-Domi
Robinson-Kuraly-Hofmann

Defense:
Werenski-Bean
Gavrikov-Boqvist
Harrington-Peeke