The Seattle Kraken are on the brink of elimination with a 5-2 loss to the Dallas Stars last night at American Airlines Arena. The Stars take a 3-2 lead in the series, with Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals tomorrow afternoon (4 PM) at Climate Pledge Arena.
The Stars scored on two of their first three shots in the game and never trailed although the Kraken cut the lead to 3-2 by the end of the second period. The Kraken also outshot their hosts, 31-21, 14-5 after the first period. The Stars’ line of Roope Hintz-Joe Pavelski-Jason Robertson were the stars of the game, combining for seven points.
“We had a solid start overall to the hockey game (and) to the first period but we found ourselves in a two-nothing hole,” Dave Hakstol said. “You look at this team and overall, (it was) a pretty close, pretty tight hockey game.”
“They came at us,” said defenseman Adam Larsson said. “They got a good forecheck and I thought we came back late in the (first) period and played pretty good overall and then kept it going in the second. But they got some timely goals, again.”
When Pavelski scored at :35 seconds of the second period, Kraken fans may have feared a blowout (both teams have posted one-sided victories in the series) but the Kraken rallied for two second period goals. Larsson, the Kraken’s best defensive defenseman, responded to Pavelski’s goal at 1:39. Matty Beniers started the play with a stretch pass out of his offensive zone. Tye Kartye hit Jordan Eberle with a pass along the left-wing boards and then Eberle found Larsson coming down the middle and he fired home.
Larsson, who had only one goal previously in the playoffs, was briefly credited with the second Kraken goal. Jared McCann fired a 20-footer, and while the official scorers originally thought that Larsson had deflected the shot, replays showed that the puck missed Larsson’s stick and actually went through the legs of Dallas defenseman Joel Hanley. McCann, who missed six games with an injury suffered in Game 4 of the Kraken’s series with the Colorado Avalanche, became the 18th Seattle player to score a goal in the playoffs. He led the team with 40 goals in the regular season.
Hintz’s two goals and an assist gave him 18 points in the playoffs and moves into a tie with Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl for most points in the playoffs. .Pavelski, who had four goals in Game 1 of the series scored his seventh goal of the series. The 38-year-old forward passed Teemo Selane for the most goals by a player that age r in a post-season series. Robertson, who led the Stars with 109 points in the regular season, has had a quiet series with only point in the first four games. He added two assists last night.
Dallas scored two goals on their first three shots of the game. Rookie Wyatt Johnston opened the scoring off a pass from Jamie Benn, stationed behind the goal line. Johnston wristed the shot home. Hintz made it 2-0 as he took a lead pass from defenseman Thomas Harley and scored off a slap shot.
Stars’ goaltender Jake Oettinger, who struggled early in the series, giving up 11 goals in five periods in Games 1 and 3, was a standout between the pipes. Before McCann’s goal, Oettinger made a kick save off Eeli Tolvanen when the Kraken were on the power play. He also had a big stop on Kartye with five minutes remaining in the game.
Hintz gave Dallas an all-important insurance goal at 11:20 of the third period. He blistered a shot into the top corner of the net and then raised his stick in jubilation. But the referee behind the net waved off the goal while the Stars celebrated and the Kraken just stopped. However, the puck came out of the net and as Seattle moved off a horn went off in the arena stopping play. League officials in the Toronto `control room’ who watch all the games live, ruled that Hintz’s shot was in the net (as replays showed).
The Kraken pulled goalie Philipp Grubauer with four minutes remaining, but Radek Faksa pounced on a loose puck at center ice and sent the puck into the open net and American Airlines Arena into a state of jubilation.
“For the most part, we fought back but we’ve just got to find a way to eliminate those mistakes,” said Eberle , who thought the Kraken would tie the game when they narrowed the lead to 3-2. “When you give them odd-man rushes and you give them looks like that…you know they’re a good team. They’ve got a lot of offensive players and they’re going to score. That’s the frustrating part of it. To try to find a way to keep playing aggressively without giving them Grade A chances.”
“We’ve got to be a little bit more patient so that we’re not giving up a couple of the transition plays that we did,” said Hakstol. “And we’re going to have to be a little harder to generate more at the other end of the rink. They did a really good job tonight of making it hard to get inside and hard to get to their net.”
It’ll be `do or die’ for the Kraken on Saturday with much of the country getting a chance to see Seattle in prime time on ESPN.
- With 39 hits last night the Kraken’s 450 hits are the most in the playoffs. However, as they’ve done throughout the series, the Stars led the Kraken in winning faceoffs, 34-23.
- Playing his second game since returning from Injured Reserve, Jared McCann had four shots – including his first playoff goal- and played 23 shifts for 17:33 of ice time. Only Jordan Eberle, Jaden Schwartz and Alex Wennberg played more minutes among the forwards.
- The winner of this series plays the winner of the Edmonton Oilers-Vegas Golden Knights series, who are also deadlocked at 2-2. That series has taken a nasty turn as Edmonton’s top defenseman Darnell Nourse is suspended for Game 5 after drawing an instigator penalty in a fight with Vegas’ Nicolas Hague in the game’s final five minutes. The Knights’ top defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been fined $5,000, the maximum fine under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and suspended one game for a late hit (and slash) on the Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl.
- The Kraken have signed goalie Niklas Kokko to a three-year entry deal. The 6’2 netminder played for Finland in the World Junior Tournament after being drafted in the second round of the amateur draft last summer.
D- Wyatt Johnston (Jamie Benn) 3:57. D- Roope Hintz (Thomas Harley) 5:35.
D- Joe Pavelski (Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz) 0:35. S- Adam Larsson (Jordan Eberle, Tye Kartye) 1:59. S- Jared McCann (Yanni Gourde, Brandon Tanev) 7:30.
D- Hintz (Pavelski, Robertson) D- Radek Faksa (unassisted) EN, 16:43.
Shots on Goal- Seattle 31, Dallas 21.
Penalty Minutes- Seattle 4, Dallas 4.
Referees- Wes McCauley, Dan O’Rourke. Linesman- Jonny Murray, Scott Cherrey. Standby Official- Gord Dwyer.
Three Stars- 1. Roope Hintz. 2. Joe Pavelski 3. Jason Robertson.