Seattle Kraken vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 29th 2024

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Seattle Kraken both find themselves seven points out of NHL wild-card playoff berths in their respective conferences entering Thursday night’s matchup at Climate Pledge Arena.

The Penguins are fifth in the Eastern Conference’s wild-card standings, while the Kraken are sixth in the West.

Yet there’s still hope in Pittsburgh and Seattle because their teams have games in hand against those they’re chasing.

Thursday’s game will be No. 57 of the season for the Penguins and No. 59 for the Kraken. Tampa Bay, which currently sits in the last playoff spot in the East, has already played 61 times; Nashville, the final seed from the West, has played 60.

“We’re in a race,” Kraken forward Oliver Bjorkstrand said. “We know that every point is huge right now, and we can’t really afford to lose any games.”

The Penguins opened a four-game Western swing Tuesday with a 4-3 overtime victory at Vancouver despite being without injured top-six wingers Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust. It was their third consecutive win and extended their point streak to four games (3-0-1).

“We need wins right now. It doesn’t matter who’s out of the lineup,” Penguins defenseman Ryan Graves said. “Even with a couple of guys out, we still feel like we have a good enough roster to beat anybody. We showed that (against the Canucks). They’re touted as one of the best teams, and we showed we can play with them, beat them and come back.”

Rickard Rakell tallied twice, Tristan Jarry made 32 saves and defenseman Erik Karlsson scored the winner 1:42 into overtime, converting a rebound off Lars Eller’s initial shot.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I missed that and we didn’t score, but luckily, we found a way,” Eller said. “We were behind, but there’s still belief and no quit in guys and we just claw our way back in, even when things weren’t looking good during the game, and that’s huge for the morale and belief as a team. We just kept clawing, and I think we got better as the game went on, and (a) huge two points against a very good team.”

Sidney Crosby had two assists, giving him his 1,000th career even-strength point. He’s the ninth player in league history to accomplish the feat.

“He’s had a remarkable career and he’s shown zero signs of slowing down,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s the heartbeat of our team, and he’s playing an inspiring game for us, so when he reaches these milestones, it doesn’t surprise us because there’s a lot of them, but it speaks volumes for how consistently well he’s played for so long. To be able to sustain such an elite level of play for so long, I can’t think of too many guys that have been able to do it like he has. It just speaks to his talent, it speaks to his drive, his passion for the game. I have run out of superlatives.”

The Kraken defeated Boston 4-3 in a shootout Monday and are 4-1-1 in their past six games.

Forward Jordan Eberle and defenseman Vince Dunn each scored for a third straight game, Bjorkstrand also tallied and Philipp Grubauer won his third start since coming off the injured list by making 29 saves – plus stops on all three of the Bruins’ shootout attempts.

“I thought we played the right way for a very, very good portion of that game,” Dunn said. “It’s not always going to be perfect, but I thought the guys did what we had to do, and guys came up in big places at really big times of the game.”

–Field Level Media

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