PREVIEW: Panthers on a roll heading into first-ever game in Seattle

“Even just walking in and trying to find your way around is always an adventure,” Panthers interim head coach Andrew Brunette said of adjusting to a brand-new building. “I think there’s a lot of excitement. The crowd here is going to be loud and it should be a fun atmosphere.”

With the day off on Saturday, players also had a chance to explore the city.

“It was fun,” Panthers rookie Anton Lundell said. “It’s my first time here in Seattle. We were just looking around the city, walking outside at the market close to the ocean. It’s very beautiful.”

Picking up four out of a possible six points through the first three games of their five-game road trip, the Panthers enter tonight’s matchup following a 2-1 shootout win at Vancouver on Friday.

Trailing 1-0 in the third period, Sam Reinhart swept in a pinballing puck on the power play from just outside the crease to make it 1-1 and eventually get the game to overtime. After a scoreless extra frame, Lundell and Aleksander Barkov each scored stunning goals in the shootout, while Spencer Knight denied two of three shooters to lock down the hard-fought win for the Panthers.

Over his last 11 games, Reinhart has recorded 15 points (four goals, 11 assists).

“He’s made an impact in a couple different areas,” Brunette said. “We’ve had up him and down the lineup and every line he plays on seems to get better when he’s on it. He has that unique kind of ability and hockey IQ that he fits in anywhere. He manages the game really well.”

In terms of lineup notes, Sam Bennett, who is tied for the team-lead in goals with 17, will be a game-time decision against the Kraken after sitting out last game with an injury. Additionally, Frank Vatrano, a healthy scratch in each of the last two games, will slot back into the lineup.

On a personal nine-game point streak in which he’s gone 8-0-1 with a .938 save percentage, Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start for the Panthers. In his last outing, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner turned aside all 40 shots he faced during a 6-0 win at Edmonton on Thursday.

“We have a great team and a tight group,” said Bobrovsky, who boasts a 20-3-3 record. “I love the guys and believe in the guys. I think we’ve built a great atmosphere in the locker room. I’ve said it so many times, but I’m just happy and it’s so much fun to be a part of this group.”

In last place in the Pacific Division with a record of 12-24-4, the Kraken have lost eight of their last 10 games, including being shut out 5-0 by the Blues in their last outing on Friday. Struggling to score, Seattle has tallied two-or-fewer goals in six games during that tough 10-game stretch.

“We weren’t able to create any space in their zone [during the first period],” Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol said after the loss to St. Louis. “I think we did a better job of shooting pucks in the second period and in the third period that third goal took the air out of our sails.”

That being said, the Panthers know they can’t take their tentacled opponents lightly after Jordan Eberle scored a pair of goals and Chris Driedger made 33 saves between the pipes to lead the Kraken to a 4-1 win in the first-ever meeting between the two teams back on Nov. 27 in Sunrise.

Eberle leads Seattle in scoring with 24 points, while Jared McCann has the most goals (15).

Manning the Kraken’s crease, Philipp Grubauer is expected to start tonight. Sitting at 9-15-4 with a .883 save percentage, he’s 2-0-0 with a .923 save percentage over his last two starts.

“We just have to keep going and trust that if we play as a team that’s going to bring us good things,” Lundell said. “That’s the key. We just need to play as a team and play together today.”

PANTHERS PROJECTED LINEUP (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

Forwards

Carter Verhaeghe – Aleksander Barkov – Sam Reinhart

Jonathan Huberdeau – Sam Bennett – Anthony Duclair

Frank Vatrano – Anton Lundell – Owen Tippett

Ryan LombergEetu LuostarinenMason Marchment

Defensemen

MacKenzie WeegarAaron Ekblad

Lucas CarlssonRadko Gudas

Matt Kiersted – Brandon Montour

Goaltenders

Sergei Bobrovsky

Spencer Knight

WHO’S HOT

Panthers: Jonathan Huberdeau has 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) over his last 11 games. … Anthony Duclair has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) over his last 12 games. … Sam Bennett has 11 points (eight goals, three assists) over his last seven games. … Carter Verhaeghe has scored six goals over his last seven games. … Aleksander Barkov has 11 points (five goals, six assists) over his last eight games.

Kraken: Marcus Johansson has four points (two goals, two assists) over his last seven games. … Jared McCann has four points (two goals, two assists) over his last seven games.

THEY SAID IT

“I thought it was a good win for the whole team. What’s most important is that we all stuck it out. Those are tough games to play in, back-to-backs. Vancouver is a great team and they played really well.” – Panthers rookie goaltender Spencer Knight after making 27 saves in Friday’s win at Vancouver.

“We can give a little bit more. [We need to] find a way to come up with an extra puck in those 50-50 situations. Get inside and find one extra rebound. … We’ve got to be quick and evade, get out of that contact and then get to some open ice and spread the zone.” – Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol on players needing to up their intensity.

FIVE CATS STATS

– Jonathan Huberdeau is first in the NHL in assists (40) and tied for third in points (55).

– The Panthers lead the league with an average of 36.6 shots per game this season.

– Florida has scored at least one power play goal in nine of its last 11 contests.

– The Panthers have scored at least six goals in seven different games this season.

– Aaron Ekblad ranks third among NHL skaters in total time on ice (1,008:55).

PANTHERS TRANSACTIONS

– Jan. 21: D Chase Priskie reassigned from Charlotte (AHL) to Taxi Squad; G Evan Fitzpatrick reassigned to Charlotte (AHL)

– Jan. 20: F Maxim Mamin and D Matt Kiersted recalled to active roster

– Jan. 17: F Owen Tippett recalled from Charlotte (AHL); F Aleksi Heponiemi and F Maxim Mamin reassigned to Taxi Squad

PANTHERS NEWS

5 TAKEAWAYS: Knight ‘exceptional’ as Panthers beat Canucks in shootout 

– 5 TAKEAWAYS: Bobrovsky ‘dialed in from the start’ as Cats shut out Oilers 

Territory Talk: Cats in Canada; Chatting with Alberga 

Panthers announce rescheduled games for 2021-22 season 

HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN

When: Sunday, Jan. 23 at 9:00 p.m. ET

Where: Climate Pledge Arena – Seattle, WA

TV: Bally Sports Florida

Stream: Bally Sports App, ESPN+ (Out of Region)

Radio: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys) SiriusXM App & Streaming 932

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