The Seattle Kraken are still alive in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Scoring two goals in all three periods, the Kraken defeated the Dallas Stars, 6-3, yesterday afternoon at a frenzied Climate Pledge Arena to deadlock the Western Conference semifinal series at three games apiece. The deciding seventh game takes place tomorrow night at Dallas’ American Airlines Arena.
Facing elimination after two straight Dallas victories, Eeli Tolvanen led the Kraken with two assists and a goal on the first three Kraken scores. Jordan Eberle had two goals including an empty-netter in the final minute, Matty Beniers and Yanni Gourde both had a goal and an assist but what proved to be the game-winner came off the stick of Tye Kartye, his third of the playoffs. Tolvanen and Eberle are the first Kraken players to chalk up three points in a playoff game.
“We knew what was on the line,” said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol of his squad going into a game. “As a staff, we didn’t have to say a whole lot. We went through some specific preparation but very simple preparation. We just felt like right from the get-go this morning our guys had a good focus. They were relaxed overall, and that formula has usually led to pretty intense starts for us, and it did.”
After scoring the opening goal in all seven games against Colorado in an opening-round playoff series, the Stars got on the scoreboard first in the last two games, going on to outscore the Kraken, 11-5 (6-3 and 5-2 victories). But on the hottest day of the year, the Kraken came out on fire.
Gourde opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the playoffs. Off a pass from Tolvanen, the 5`9 `pepper pot’ drove to the net with a purpose. He deked around defenseman Esa Lindell who fell to the ice, and then jammed the puck by Dallas goalkeeper Jake Oettinger. But less than a minute later, Mason Marchment, who missed most of Game 4 and most of Game 5 with an injury, tied the game, 1-1, off a pass from Tyler Seguin.
The Kraken would take a 2-1 lead to the intermission, when they clicked on the power play. Eberle tipped in the rebound of Tolvanen’s shot at 16:45. The Kraken are now 2 for 14 on the power play in the series (they were 3-for-21 against Colorado in round one)
Seattle outshot its guests, 16-5, in the first period but Jake Oettinger was sharp in the Stars’ net. That wasn’t the case in the second period. Gourde and Tolvanen were involved in the score that gave the Kraken a two-goal lead, 3-1. Gourde sent a lead pass to Oliver Bjorkstrand in the slot, and with everyone in the arena (probably including the Stars) expecting Bjorkstrand to shoot, he sent a pass over to Tolvanen, who blistered a slap shot into the net.
“”He’s physical,” said Gourde when asked about his linemate Tolvanen. “He wins puck battles. He’s got a tremendous shot. You see him lay down for a shot. He does the job and knows what it takes. It’s been a lot of pleasure to play with him and it’s been a lot of fun.”
At 4:23, 20-year-old Matty Beniers sent a cross ice pass to Kartye, who just turned 22 and he wristed a shot home. Kartye was recently named the American Hockey League Rookie-of-the-Year and Beniers is the favorite to be named the Calder Trophy winner presented to the National Hockey League Rookie-of-the-Year.
After that goal, Oettinger was pulled for the second time in the series in favor of Scott Wedgewood. On three occasions now, Oettinger’s given multiple goals in a short time span, while otherwise playing well.
The Stars would cut the lead to 4-2 before the second intermission when Joe Pavelski, known for his quick hands around the net, tipped in a drive by defenseman Miro Heiskenan.
Dallas would push back in the opening six minutes of the third, but Philipp Grubauer made some timely saves and the Kraken blocked some shots in front of their netminder. The momentum changed after a Kraken penalty kill, where they controlled the puck for most of the two minutes. Beniers made it 5-3 off a cross from Eberle, but the Stars had their second `response goal’ of the game 14 seconds later, when Dallas forward Joel Kiviranta scored his first goal of the playoffs.
A lot of Kraken goals start off their forecheck, but it was the Kraken forechecking that helmed Dallas in their own zone in the game’s final minutes after Wedgewood was pulled for an extra attacker. Bjorkstrand particularly was a forechecking demon, stopping a couple of Dallas thrusts as they attempted to move the puck up ice.
With about two minutes remaining in the game, Eberle played a puck off the boards to clear the zone and the puck ricocheted down the ice and just missed the open net. But moments later, Eberle would get his empty netter when he carried over the line and fired a shot home.
“We were ready tonight,” said Tolvanen, who was picked up on waivers from Nashville in late December, and went on to score 20 goals for the Kraken. “I felt like the last couple games, they’ve been maybe the more ready team at the start, so I think that was the big key today. I think all four lines were ready to play, and we showed it straight off.”
For the second time this playoff season, the Kraken go on the road for an all-or-nothing Game 7. Seattle hopes for a repeat of their first Game 7 when they went into Colorado and posted an upset victory. The game starts 5 PM local time but 8 PM in the East as the Kraken make their second consecutive appearance in prime time on ESPN.
“We know the test,” Hakstol said. “We know the challenge. It’ll be a big one, but we’ll be ready.”
- Tye Kartye now has three playoff goals before ever playing in an NHL regular-season game. Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers holds the record with five playoff goals before making his regular season debut. Kartye was undrafted out of junior hockey but earned a minor-league contract at a Kraken tryout camp prior to last season.
- The finalists for all of the National Hockey League post-season awards have been announced. For the Hart Trophy, awarded to the league’s Most Valuable Player, the finalists are Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, last year’s winner, who had 150 points in the regular season, David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins and Matthew Tkachuk of the Florida Panthers. Finalists for the Vezina Trophy include Linus Ullmark of the Boston Bruins, Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets and Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers. Players also voted on the Ted Lindsay Award presented to their choice as the Best Player in the league. McDavid, Pastrnak and San Jose defenseman Erik Karlsson are the finalists in that category.
- Eight of the last nine times the Stars have had a 3-2 series lead on the road, they’ve won. The last time they didn’t was the 2000 Western Conference Final versus Colorado.
S- Yanni Gourde (Eeli Tolvanen, Justin Schultz) 8:28. D- Mason Marchment (Tyler Seguin, Max Domi) 9:30. S-Jordan Eberle (Tolvanen, Jared McCann) PPG 16:45.
S- Tolvanen (Oliver Bjorkstrand, Gourde) 1:34. S- Tye Kartye (Matty Beniers, Vince Dunn) 4:23. D- Joe Pavelski (Miro Heiskenan, Jason Robertson) PPG 5:30.
S- Matty Beniers (Eberle, Justin Schwartz) 8:44. D- Joel Kiviranta (Thomas Harley, Radek Faksa) 8:58. S- Eberle (Alex Wennberg) EN, 19:02.
Shots on Goal- Dallas 23, Seattle 29.
Penalty Minutes- Dallas 18, Seattle 18.
Referees- Gord Dwyer, Jon McIsaac. Linesmen- Brad Kovachik, Matt MacPherson. Standby Officials- Trevor Hanson, Ryan Gibbons.
Three Stars- 1. Eeli Tolvanen. 2. Yanni Gourde. 3. Matty Beniers.