The Seattle Kraken’s team depth outshines the Dallas Stars’ individual brilliance, capturing Game-1 of their second round Stanley Cup series 5-4 in overtime.
Coach Dave Hakstol hoped his 2022-23 playoff team could establish a benchmark for future Kraken squads to emulate. It’ll take a superior effort to better three Seattle goals in 52 seconds. The 1st period trifecta – Justin Schultz at 14:28, Oliver Bjorkstrand at 14:39, and Jordan Eberle at 15:20 – were the sixth-fastest three-spot in NHL playoff history.
One key sequence didn’t result in a goal. Late in the 1st period, Dallas trying to regain momentum, Jamie Benn knocked goalie Philipp Grubauer on his wallet. Maintaining his composure, Grubauer re-established position just in time to foil a testing shot by Jani Hakanpää. Seattle led 4-2 after 20.
Seattle pressed the play in the scoreless 2nd period, outshooting Dallas 14-9, 26-20 total after 40. Grubauer fought off a shorthanded, shoulder-high knuckle-shot from Roope Hintz, who tallied five goals and seven assists in six games against the Minnesota Wild.
Missed Seattle opportunity 1: Matty Beniers rang a close-in shot off the post early in the 3rd period, with a lot of net yawning. Seconds later, Eberle was robbed by Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger’s glove. Beniers held his stick behind his head, ruing the chance for a three goal lead.
Seattle isn’t sitting back hoping to bleed the clock. On another offensive thrust, Dallas’ Mason Marchment trips Morgan Geekie. Marchment tried to goad Geekie into a matching minor by punching him in the head, but Geekie doesn’t take the bait. In this case, turtle-ing is courageous and smart; it takes discipline to not fight back when your melon is being used for a bongo.
Missed Seattle opportunity 2: The power play doesn’t connect.
Missed Seattle opportunity 3: Gourde passes rather than shoot on a 2-on-1. The Stars counterattack, and Joe Pavelski completes a hat trick to bring Dallas within 4-3 at 9:50. Grubauer had pitched 37 minutes of shutout hockey after allowing two early goals to Pavelski. Hard to believe the 38-year-old Dallas winger had been in concussion protocol since midway through Game-1 against Minnesota.
With 6:37 left, it’s Pavelski 4, Kraken 4, on an unreal deflection bunted home from a fluttering centering pass. Just before that, the Stars had spent a dominant 40-second shift in the Kraken zone, with Seattle vainly chasing the puck.
The Kraken find themselves hemmed in again for the final 72 seconds of regulation.Vince Dunn is spun around by Benn and falls as he circles the net, what should have been a penalty because the turnover set up a grade-A scoring chance. Wyatt Johnston shot wide, though, and when he fired high and hard on goal seconds later, Grubauer chested it away.
Overtime will settle Game-1. Shots are 34-31 Seattle through regulation. Dallas didn’t play the last half of the third period with seven skaters – it just felt that way.
Six minutes into OT, Hintz roars down the wing and fires, but Grubauer says NO. (Stick tap: John Forslund, who may be broadcasting into a soup ladle, because ESPN has exclusive U.S. TV rights.) Moments later, Grubauer’s compete level hits 11: he gets so low to see through a screen, he saves Miro Heiskanen’s shot practically from his belly. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman would say later, “Playoff Grubauer has been spectacular.”
Yanni Gourde scores the winner at 12:17 on a textbook overtime goal, which is to say, odd. Oettinger blockers a puck high into the air; Bjorkstrand pushes it back into him; Benn pokes it; Gourde’s pass to the blueline caroms off a Dallas skate right back to him, and lands on edge; Gourde, back still to the net, wheels and swats a blind shot. Three Dallas players are between their goalie and the net. They don’t stop the puck, but perfectly obstruct Oettenger’s view.
Seattle wins 5-4, behind goals from five different Kraken, a fact noted by Gourde in an ESPN interview. “We’re four lines deep and six defensemen. We’re ‘next guy up.’ That’s the mentality we’ve had all year. We love playing that way. We know we have more in the tank, and we’re excited about Game-2.”
— The Kraken ran their regular season/playoff 5-on-5 goal count to 254, more than any other team.
— Dallas hadn’t allowed four goals in a period all season. After that, Seattle went 60:57 before scoring again.
— Eleven different Kraken recorded a hit in the 1st period. Seattle outhit Dallas 16-3 in the 1st, 12-5 in the 2nd, 13-6 in the 3rd.
— The 1980s called to say they’re digging the offense: six combined goals in the 1st period, nine for the game. They won’t challenge the all-time playoff series goals record; in the 1985 Western Conference Final, the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks combined for 69 goals.