The Seattle team that we saw hit the ice in Game 2 absolutely pales in comparison to the Kraken that we saw tonight. The Kraken hit the ice with a new sense of energy– a new sense of purpose– and it showed, after they defeated the Dallas Stars in a BLOWOUT game 7-2 in Game 3 of the second round of the Stanley Cup finals. It appears after a hard fought overtime loss, the boys got the rest they needed, studied up on their film, and made the necessary adjustments to keep the Stars offense, who started confident after their OT win at American Airlines Center, at bay. The Kraken that we saw play served as a not-so-gentle reminder that they are very much alive, and very much have the opportunity to become cup contenders. In game one, after immediately leaving Ball Arena in Colorado to play road-trip hockey in Dallas, they squeaked out a win against their opponents, 5-4 in overtime. Like any team would, unless you’re the Florida Panthers, they lost their steam and were defeated 2-4 in Game 2. Fortunately, the Seattle hockey club was granted a few days rest after heading home for Game 3, and boy, did they get their beauty sleep.
Heading into the first, we saw a similar story to Game 2. It was scoreless, but the Seattle Kraken’s play wasn’t like their performance in the previous game. Although the Dallas Stars still dominated the game in faceoffs, 38 to 29, the Kraken were excellent on both the forecheck as well as the backcheck, able to quickly retake possession of the puck and move it into the Stars’ zone. They were also making excellent passes, demonstrated stellar puck protection, and were able to minimize the Dallas Stars’ time in their offensive zone with heavy pressure, forcing them to shoot often, but not well. Grubauer also put on a goaltending clinic, with a .923 SV% throughout the game. It wasn’t until the second period when the game really began to pop off.
Four goals in under five minutes to begin the period. That was the name of the game. Not only that, but these goals were scored by FOUR separate players, and the trend would continue when the Kraken netted two more later on. The first goal, scored by Jordan Eberle, ricocheted off of Miro Heiskanen’s face after a shot from Tye Kartye. Unfortunately for the Stars, this would not only put them down early in the second, but Dallas’ star defenseman would be out for the rest of the game. Soon after, the two teams would face off on the Kraken’s offsides dot where they would immediately gain possession of the puck. Jaden Schwartz would receive a pass up center ice while entering the Stars zone, and he passed it across the slot to Alex Wennberg, who snapped it glove side for the goal.
The fun wouldn’t end there. Still within the opening minutes of the period, Carson Soucy would rush the net on Jake Ottinger’s right side after taking a pass from Ryan Donato, and made the Texas goaltender look silly as he tucked the puck between his pads.
Matty Berniers would even get his name on the scoresheet two minutes later, with a beautiful unassisted goal from the top of the faceoff circle.
The Dallas Stars, with about 7:35 left in the period would have an opportunity to close the gap with a beauty of a pass across the Kraken zone to Mason Marchment. This guy’s been getting under my skin. He’s not a clean player– I wouldn’t call him dirty, but he’s definitely not clean. If you recall in Game 1, Marchment was given a penalty behind the Stars net for tripping against Morgan Geekie. After he hit the ice, Marchment then proceeded to crosschek Geekie while he was still down. The next game, after tapping sticks with Carson Soucy in one of the corners, decided that he would take a fall to try and put one of our boys in the box (he succeeded after drawing a slashing penalty against Soucy, when trading words with him near one of the linesmen). In tonight’s game, we see not only an interesting side of Marchment, but of a few other Dallas players as well, when Vince Dunn inevitably got into it with the crybaby in green in front of the Stars’ bench. Jamie Benn then attempts to grab Dunn’s stick, and pull him in. It appears that the Kraken are forcing their opponents frustration to show, as the Seattle team forced Dallas to take almost an HOUR’S worth of penalty minutes
Eeli Tolvanen would score the 5th goal of the game for the Kraken in the dying minutes of the second with a rebound off of Ottinger from Ryan Donato.
The Seattle Kraken EMBARRASED Jake Ottinger in a mere 20 minutes, so it was no surprise to see Scott Wedgewood take his place at the start of the third, which meant good news for the flaming Kraken offensive effort. Wedgewood had played only 21 games in the 2022-23 regular season, putting up some… Well… Average stats, with a win/loss of 9-8, and a SV% of .915. His last game was on April 12, a win against the St, Louis Blues where he stopped 16 out of the 18 shots that he faced. Not fantastic numbers, as this suggests that Wedgewood relied heavily on the Stars’ defense during this game. It’s been 26 days since that game, and unfortunately for him, the Stars’ defense was virtually non-existent. The lack of ice time this playoffs would prove crucial to the Kraken’s momentum. The embarrassment for the Dallas goaltending tandem would continue, after not just a beautiful play from Brandon Tenev and Yanni Gourde, but a TEXTBOOK play from Brandon Tanev and Yanni Gourde. Tanev, after intercepting the puck out of a Stars player’s skate, took it up his right side, and faked the shot at the faceoff dot, making Wedgewood bite. This was the perfect opportunity to pass across to Gourde, who sailed it right past the goaltender. This was by far, THE play of the game, and I will accept no other answers or argument. Just watch for yourself:
The final goal from the Stars’ desperate attempt to get back within fighting distance came off of an offensive zone faceoff, where Yani Hakanpaa shot it past Grubauer, making the score 2-6. The final nail in the coffin for the Stars would come with a tip in from Justin Schultz.
Stars of the Game
I want to remind my readers that when I report on the starts of the game, these are my own personal choices, and don’t reflect the official choices made by the NHL or their staff and associates.
Coming in at number three, I’ve got Carson Soucy. He deserves to be on this list just about as much as anyone else, however he contributed GREATLEY to the Kraken defense, and helped manage control of the puck throughout his entire game. He played physically, laying a HUGE hit on Mason Marchment during the first period, which lead to a goal for the Kraken.
My second star of the game is Brandon Tanev, simply on his assist with Yanni Gourde alone. If I had to include more, Tanev’s game was also physical, and he contributed to every aspect of the game with his speed and quick thinking. However, the fake-out shot that made Scott Wedgewood bite preceding the pass to Yanni was absolutely gorgeous. Textbook even, and it will probably be studied for future games by skaters competing in every level of play. When Tanev is given the space to work with the puck, he is an artist, and he demonstrated that tonight.
And my first star.. Everybody say it with me now… GRUUUUUBIIIEEEEEE!!!! His focus was LASER sharp, and after the struggles in Game 2, the Kraken made the necessary adjustments against the Stars to mitigate their time in the zone. This pressure from the first carried on throughout the game, and forced the Stars to shoot the puck in times where it absolutely wasn’t beneficial to them. It caused Dallas to have bad shot placement, and even worse rebound control, as Grubauer and the rest of the squad seemed to hale little to no issues with loose pucks in front of the net this game, which is an INCREDIBLE step up from the Kraken’s previous games.
The Seattle Kraken’s strength comes from their depth. As has been proven time and time again, a strong roster depth will 9 times out of 10 beat an okay team with a star player (exaggeration of course, but you get my point). The Seattle Kraken have 16 separate goal scorers now this postseason, and 9 players with more than a single goal. Prior to Game 3, Jared McCann who was out with an undisclosed injury after a hit from Cale Makar, was seen at morning skate in a normal white jersey, as opposed to a red no-contact one. This is exciting news, as it seems that the Kraken’s top player will soon make a return, allowing the Kraken’s depth to go even deeper. The energy from the boys was immaculate. They were playing in tune, and had little to no miscommunication. They did a great job adjusting to help Grubauer do his job in net, and it paid off for the Kraken, with a 7-2 win in regulation. Let’s see if they Puget Sound Papis can continue this momentum into game 4, where they’ll have the home-ice advantage yet again.