FINAL: Dallas Stars 2, Seattle Kraken 1
The Kraken blocked 13 shots in the 1st-period compared to just two for the Stars, which gives one a pretty good idea of which team had the higher shot attempt volume. Part of that came from Dallas having offensive zone time practically the entire length of their one power play, while Seattle struggled to gain the zone on their single man-advantage.
The Kraken did manage shots-on-goal in general at 5-on-5, their forté this season, but no Grade-A chances on Stars goalie Jake Oettinger jumped out.
All that said, a scoreless first period for an underdog road team in a Game-7 is not a bad thing. No more nerves, just down to business.
Speaking of netminders, Kraken stopper Philipp Grubauer appeared to be on his game from the get-go. After nine saves in the 1st period, the same number as Oettinger, “Grooby” faced a strong surge from Dallas in the early going of the 2nd. He faced five challenging opportunities in the first five minutes and stopped them all while his teammates struggled to muster a shot-on-goal at the other end.
That changed as the period progressed. Both teams created chances, some of them golden. Most belonged to the Stars, but as is so often the case in tight games like this one, it comes down to a mistake or a break and that’s how Dallas got on the board first.
Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak chased back to his own blueline to retrieve a puck that had been flipped in the air. When the puck landed it dug into the ice and stopped abruptly rather than bouncing. Oleksiak reached to play it just as speedy Stars forward Roope Hintz arrived on the scene. Hintz stole the puck, raced in, and went high blocker on the breakaway to give Dallas a 1-0 lead. The goal came at 15:59 unassisted.
Although not preferred, down one goal on the road in a Game-7 is not a bad position to be in. Unless of course it’s against the Dallas Stars, a team that can be stingy with the lead and came in 7-and-0 in this postseason when holding the lead after two periods.
Of course, a one-goal lead means it just takes one shot to tie it.
The Kraken would pull out all the stops to no avail.
Rookie Stars forward Wyatt Johnston, who turned age-20 on Sunday, put the game away with a magical solo effort at the 12;28 mark. He cut towards the net from a tough angle below the right circle and backhanded a shot top shelf that ramped up off of Grubauer’s shoulder. It was a precision effort, his 4th goal of the playoffs.
Kraken Goal Scorer:
2-1 Stars – Even Strength (Extra attacker) – Oliver Bjorkstrand (4) from Yanni Gourde, 19:42
Off an offensive zone face-off win and a rebound, Bjorkstrand back-handed the puck in with just enough time left for a glimmer of hope.
The never-say-die Kraken took it down to the very end, getting on the board with 18-seconds remaining, and generating a couple of shots on goal as time waned. They fell just short.
— The Stars outshot the Kraken 28-23. Power plays: Both teams went 0-for-1.
— One goal short of overtime in Game-7 of the second round against the Central Division champions after beating the defending Stanley Cup champions in Game-7 of the first round. Not too shabby, as Seattle officially becomes a hockey town.
A magical season ends for the Kraken while the Dallas Stars move on to play the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final starting on Friday.