Gourde’s goal gives Kraken OT victory

Another night. Another hero.

The Seattle Kraken continued their amazing playoff run last night thanks to Yanni Gourde’s overtime goal at 12:17 of the extra session, giving the Kraken a 4-3 win over the Dallas Stars in the opening game of the Western Conference semi-final playoff series. Ironically, ESPN commentator Kevin Weekes had predicted Gourde as the winning goal scorer before the OT began. Quite a statement, considering that the game winner was Gourde’s only shot of the game.

Dallas’ Joe Pavelski had a storybook night, comparable to the history the Kraken have recorded so far in the 2023 playoffs. Pavelski, who was injured in the first game of the Stars’ playoff series against the Minnesota Wild after taking a high hit from Matt Dumba, scored all four Dallas goals in his first game back. The 38-year-old becomes the oldest player to chalk up four goals in a playoff game. He was also selected the game’s number-one star but the Kraken would trade that accolade for a victory any time. Stars’ goalie Jake Oettinger had a strange night, surrendering three goals in 52 seconds midway through the first period, and then stopping 31 consecutive shots before Gourde’s game winner.

Gourde’s goal goes into the books as an unassisted goal but it came from a team effort. Starting with defenseman Adam Larsson keeping the puck in the offensive zone, Eeli Tolvanen would get off two shots in the sequence. The rebound of his second, came out to Oliver Bjorkstrand who passed across to Gourde on the left side of the net. Gourde momentarily lost the puck to the Stars’ Evgeny Dadanov, but as they’ve done often on goals in the playoffs, a Kraken player emerged victorious in a one-on-one battle. Gourde regained control and fired home from a bad angle.

“(Pressure in front) was huge,” said Gourde. “We shot the puck, got a retrieval. Stayed on the puck and I was just fortunate I turned around and found the back of the net.”

While the Kraken didn’t score the opening goal in a playoff game for the first time in their brief playoff history, their four first period goals were the most by any team in the opening frame of the playoffs this season. Pavelski opened the scoring off a pass from Mason Marchment on his second shift of the game. Max Domi (three assists) started the play by gaining control in his defensive zone and then Pavelski wristed home a cross pass from Mason Marchment at 2:25.

Jaden Schwartz (three goals in the playoffs) put the Kraken on the scoreboard at 11:20 of the first period. Schwartz won a battle along the boards and found Morgan Geekie in the slot. Schwartz cut to the net and deflected Geekie’s shot home. Then that man Pavelski struck again. Less than a minute later, the veteran forward  re-directed a shot from up top by defenseman Thomas Hartley.

For the next few minutes, the Dallas crowd was shocked into silence. After Brandon Tanev’s hit on Luke Glendening in the corner, Ryan Donato took the puck and hit defenseman Justin Schultz driving to the net, deadlocking the game at 2-2. Then Oliver Bjorkstrand picked up where he left on Sunday night when he scored two goals in the clincher against the Colorado Avalanche. Bjorkstrand turned on the goal light a mere 11 seconds later after taking a stretch pass from Larsson. Some 31 seconds after that, Jordan Eberle tipped home Vince Dunn’s drive from the point to make it 4-2. Seattle fans may have been having visions of the Kraken’s 9-8 win against Los Angeles on Nov. 29, but the game settled back into playoff atmosphere after that flurry.

“That’s not a typical first period in playoff hockey, but sometimes you get those,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s a lot going on there. Obviously, on the defensive side, play without the puck, we’ve got to clean some things up there. What I did like is we go down and [were] able to push back right away and just do it in a way where we’ve generated offense that way all year.”

After a scoreless second period, the Kraken had a chance for another insurance goal early in the third period.  Eberle stole a Dallas clear and hit a streaking Matty Beniers coming down the middle. Beniers had an open net, but hit the post. It was still the Kraken rookies’ best game of the playoffs as he finished with five shots on goal.

Pavelski would tie the game, first pouncing on the rebound of captain Jamie Benn’s shot at 10:50 and then deflecting a shot by defenseman Jani Hakanpaa at 13:23. On that goal, Pavelski swung his stick like a baseball bat sending the puck past Philipp Grubauer into the net.”

“As soon as they got the third goal, the momentum swings, and they came in waves, the building’s rocking,” said Hakstol. “But to be able to get through to the overtime, the intermission, settled down a little bit and just get back to our game. We didn’t do anything spectacular out of the ordinary in overtime.”

“We were happy to get that break (after regulation) and reset,” said. Schwartz. “Try get some momentum back and get our legs back and start playing more aggressive and start playing with the puck a little bit more.”

Grubauer who starred in the Kraken’s seven-game victory over Colorado made two big saves late in the contest. One came against Wyatt Johnston (tied with Beniers for most goals by a rookie) with a minute left in regulation. Then Grubauer stopped Roope Hintz – the Stars’ leading scorer in the Minnesota series- on a breakaway at 5:52.

“This is how you want to start the series,” said Gourde. “We know it’s a huge game. I loved our response. I loved our composure. We’re a pretty mature group in there. We trusted that the process was going to get it done.”

“Every win, especially right now, you need everyone going, everyone chipping in and everyone elevating their game,” Schwartz said. “We rely on everybody. We need to and we like our depth and we’ve done a good job.”

The Kraken and Stars meet in Game 2 tomorrow night at Dallas’ Reunion Arena. The series returns to Seattle on Sunday night.


  • Unlike their opening round series with Colorado, the Kraken will get two days off (Friday and Saturday) before returning home. The Kraken and the Florida Panthers both got only one day off after road wins on Sunday night completing grueling seven-game series. The Kraken, seventh seed in the West, and the Panthers, eighth in the East, both won road games again last night. The Panthers, who eliminated the Boston Bruins (best regular season record in the league)  in overtime on Sunday, beat Toronto last night, 4-2
  • Game 4 of the Dallas-Seattle series takes place Tuesday with the Seattle Storm generously offering to reschedule their pre-season opener against the Phoenix Mercury, originally scheduled for Tuesday, May 9, at Climate Pledge. Speaking of TV,  ESPN, TBS, TNT and ABC have exclusive rights to the rest of the playoffs. Local networks (ROOT Sports in the Kraken’s case) won’t be showing live games, and Seattle fans might need a notepad to keep track of what network is showing the Kraken on a given day. Last night’s game was on ESPN, but Game 2 (May 4) commences on TNT, Game 3, May 7, TBS; Game 4, May 9 ESPN, Game 5, May 11, TNT; Game 6, May 13, ESPN; Game 7, May 15, ESPN. The next three games are slated to begin at 6:30 Pacific time, but often start 10 to 15 minutes later to accommodate TV.


First Period

D- Joe Pavelski (Mason Marchment, Max Domi) 2:25. S- Jaden Schwartz (Morgan Geekie, Jordan Eberle) 11:25. D- Pavelski (Thomas Hartley, Miro Heiskanen) 12:18. S- Justin Schultz (Ryan Donato) 14:28. S- Oliver Bjorkstrand (Jamie Oleksiak, Will Borgen) 14:39. S- Eberle (Vince Dunn, Beniers) 15:20.

Second Period

No scoring.

Third Period

D- Pavelski (Jamie Benn, Domi) 9:50. D- Pavelski (Jani Hakanpaa, Domi) 13:23.


S- Yanni Gourde (unassisted)  12:17.

Shots on Goal- Seattle 44, Dallas 35.

Penalty Minutes- Seattle 6, Dallas 4.

Referees- Kyle Rehman, Jean Hebert. Linesmen- Kiel Murchison, Shander Alfonso. Three Stars- 1. Joe Pavelski, D. 2. Yanni Gourde, S. 3. Max Domi

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