The Kraken returned to Seattle on Tuesday following Monday night’s 2-1 loss in Game-7 of the Western Conference Semi-final to the Dallas Stars.
Monday night postgame, Stars head coach Pete DeBoer summed things up rather nicely.
“You’ve got to give them credit, I should have led with that, because I was really impressed with the job Dave Hakstol and his staff did, but also how hard that team played and how, as a team they played, they were relentless,” DeBoer said of the Kraken. “Right up until the buzzer tonight, so hats off to them, real impressive season and effort by that group, and they made us earn it.”
“We’ve got a pretty clear perspective of this group of guys, and the type of team and the type of teammates that they are,” Kraken head coach Hakstol said postgame. “We pushed as hard as we could push tonight, I think we couldn’t find our top gear. Give Dallas a lot of credit in that regard, they answered the game that we played in Game-6. They came home into their home building and put us under pressure, and as you got into that second period, that’s where they tilted the game their direction.”
That’s when Dallas’s leading scorer and biggest overall threat Roope Hintz capitalized on a takeaway in the neutral zone, skated in alone and beat Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer to give the Stars a 1-0 lead. It was tough sledding the rest of the way for Seattle. The eventual game-winner came on a nifty goal from Dallas rookie Andrew Johnston with a few minutes left in the 3rd period.
“We’re one win away from having the opportunity of being one of the final four teams playing,” Hakstol added, “so you see that pain in guys, especially in the veteran guys who really understand how hard it is to get here. For the young guys, you mentioned Matty (Beniers) and a couple of the young guys on our roster, that realization is there as well, but you also see the growth in those guys and the importance of the experience that they just went through.”
Meanwhile, the organization enjoyed a dramatic victory at the American Hockey League level. The AHL’s second best regular season team, the Kraken’s Coachella Valley Firebirds affiliate, beat the league’s best regular season team, the Calgary Wranglers, in triple-overtime on Monday night to take a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-5 Pacific Division final.
Firebirds goalie Joey Daccord made 60 saves in the victory, easily a new career high. Daccord appeared in five games this past season for the Kraken, going 2-1-and-1 at the NHL level.
After falling behind 2-0 to the Calgary Flames affiliate, the Firebirds picked up a goal from defenseman Gustav Olofsson in the second period and the tying goal from captain Max McCormick in the third. Evans, the OT hero, had an assist on the tying goal.
Kole Lind had the lone assist on the game winner.
Coachella Valley can wrap up the series on Wednesday night at home with another opportunity on Friday night if necessary. Tye Kartye, the rookie who scored three goals in the playoffs for the Kraken, has been returned to the Firebirds to help them try and win the Calder Cup. Once he clears waivers on Wednesday, Jesper Froden, an extra player for Seattle in the postseason, will join Coachella Valley as well.
The Seattle Fans
Call it a positive parting shot, as Hakstol came near the end of his postgame press conference.
“I haven’t been in the league forever, but I’ve been around for a while now, and that’s the best playoff atmosphere (Climate Pledge Arena) that I’ve experienced,” Hakstol said. “Tremendous right from the start of the year, they showed up, coming off a tough first year, and they helped us build and grow throughout the year. And on the flip side, that’ll be a perspective that I want our players also to have, it probably won’t register home tonight, but this group also changed the landscape of hockey in Seattle.
“This particular group had the guts to change the culture, that trajectory, the belief of our franchise as well. So, that’s something for later, but that hits home with me that this group of guys did that and at some point in time they should look at that and take a lot of pride.”