Once again, the Seattle Kraken has proven to the hockey community that this new franchise still has a dog in the fight to secure their ticket to Round 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After coming back to Climate Pledge Arena following back-to-back losses, the latter with a considerable comeback effort, the Kraken defeated the Dallas Stars 6-3 in an astonishing effort to force Game 7 at American Airlines Center, granting them a final chance to move on to the Western Conference Final, where they’ll play against the winner of the Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights series.
Tonight’s version of the Kraken saw a renewed sense of determination and urgency. Not at all surprising, considering the circumstances that they face, as losing Game 6 would have meant the end of their season. The first period went scoreless for over five minutes, and the silence wasn’t broken until Eeli Tolvanen assisted Yanni Gourde’s first blood with a drop pass from the top of the right wing faceoff circle, where he then glided across the Dallas crease and scored with a rebound off of the pads of Jake Ottinger.
If there’s one thing that the Dallas Stars offense have been good at during this series so far, is their ability to respond to adversity… Quite quickly. Now, I don’t know what exactly happened here. I think Tyler Seyguin must have done a vey good job on that fake pass to Mason Marchment, because after that last goal, it looked like Grubauer’s controller died and someone had to run off and frantically throw fresh batteries in. With the pass across, Marchment’s body was in the perfect position to put the puck into a wide open net. Even the fans in the arena hadn’t had time to sit back down from cheering.
Thankfully, the Kraken would maintain their composure in the following minutes. They would have two opportunities to in the final 7:25 of the period to showcase their power play capabilities. First, on a tripping call against Thomas Harley, where the Seattle Kraken would show a promising, yet ultimately unsuccessful attempt. Almost immediately after the Kraken’s man advantage would expire, they would be granted a second chance after a tripping call against Jamie Benn. Eeli Tolvanen, after picking up the puck from Jared McCann, sent the puck straight into the pads of Ottinger. This is where we’d see Jordan Eberle get his name on the board, after a silky smooth puck flip over Esa Lindell’s leg while Grubauer was still trying to search for the rebound. He’d set the score 2-1, giving the Seattle squad the confidence to battle it down to the final seconds of the period. This goal was by FAR the sexiest of them all. Having the patience and coordination, as well as the pure skill to flip the puck over the leg of ANY defending player, whether it’s a goalie or a skater, for a GOAL, is beyond impressive. I hope this goal will be remembered for years to come.
The first five minutes of the second period are unlike what we saw in the first. A few minutes after puck drop, we’d see Yanni Gourde set up a beautiful centering pass to Oliver Bjorkstrand who carried straight up to the Dallas Goaltender. Like something you’d see out of a movie, Bjorkstrand slipped the puck to a lurking backdoor intruder, who just so happed to be Eeli Tolvanen. This gave the Seattle Kraken a short lived two-goal lead, as Tye Kartye would pick the puck up at the blue line, and rip it past Jake Ottinger as he flew down the left wing. This is when the Dallas goaltender was pulled from the game in favor of Scott Wedgewood, giving Jake the shortest game start of his career.
The three goal lead wouldn’t last long either, as this lit a fire under the asses of Joe Pavelski and the other Stars. After the following faceoff, he then netted one for the Texas club, after he redirected a shot on net for Miro Heiskanen. It seemed like the Kraken had been letting themselves a little too comfortable a little too easily since the goaltender change. This will be something that they fixed quickly.
Scott Wedgewood would prove to be a bit more prepared for the game tonight, as he was able to save 9 out of the 10 goals that he faced tonight as the Dallas Stars had to fight for the rest of the period unable to cope with the aggressive and physical Seattle team that had so much success in previous games. Grubauer on the other had, was feeling like his old self again, and was making some fantastic saves, and would continue to do so for the rest of the second period, and the majority of period 3. The Seattle Kraken and the Dallas Stars both would get an opportunity to capitalize on the power play, however neither would succeed.
As with any third period, this is where a lot of fans on both sides start shitting themselves just a little bit. It’s a little bit MORE nerve wracking when you’re facing either the potential elimination of your team from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, or their moving on. The Dallas Stars would begin the third with a startling presence in the Kraken zone. After a holding call on Vince Dunn, we saw some of the heaviest pressure in the Seattle zone we’ve seen all game. Thankfully, with one of the best penalty kill percentages in the league, the Kraken were able to take care of it. If you were watching the game from a bar anywhere in Washington, you probably got some free or discounted beers, as after the Dallas powerplay, Matty Beniers got himself on the board. This top line is rocking. Tye Katrye, Jordan Eberle, and Matty Beneirs work together like the gears of a well oiled machine. Carson Soucy with a phenomenal block, kept the shot by Mason Marchment off of the Kraken net. Jaden Schwartz would move the puck up ice to Jordan Eberle, Beniers to his left. Mere moments after they entered the Dallas Stars zone, the puck was sauced over to Beniers, who rocketed it past Wedgewood for the Kraken’s fifth goal of the game.
The game was looking pretty bleak for the Dallas Stars. This wouldn’t cause them to give up, however. Like I mentioned before, the Stars have been good at quick responses to adversity throughout this series. Less than a minute later, again catching the fans in Climate Pledge Arena in mid cheer, Joel Kiviranta would slip in a rebound, after Thomas Harley gets the puck off from the Kraken’s blue line. This would cut the deficit to 2, meaning the Kraken had to do whatever they could to keep their lead. Good news would come after a hard fought battle between the two teams, with three and a half left to play. The Dallas Stars would pull Scott Wedgewood for the extra attacker. This gave the Stars the pressure they needed in the Kraken’s zone, however, the Puget Sound Papis’ defensive effort would prove too much. Jordan Eberle, my personal first star of the game as we’ll go over in a moment, was the one to give the Seattle Kraken the insurance they needed to take the win in Game 6 with coast-to-coast empty net goal.
Stars of the Game
With a win, comes my stars of the game. For me, it’s no question as to who my first star is, and that person is a certain Mr. Jordan Eberle. First of all, his first goal of the game was a beaut. He was right on top of Eeli Tolvanen’s rebound in the first period, and beautifully scooped the puck up and over Lindell’s leg. Jordan Eberle has also done a great job supporting his linemates, and has been doing well at moving the puck. Helping Matty with his goal, as well as sealing the deal with the empty netter for Seattle, is more than enough for me to make him my top star.
My second star for the game is Eeli Tolvanen. His presence was felt a lot on the ice, especially in the first period and leading into the second after he assisted both of the goal for the Kraken’s beginning push, and then scored one himself in the second that contributed to the replacement of Jake Ottinger. This goal was so beautiful in fact, I almost gave Oliver Bjorkstrand the second star. Just watch, and you’ll see why:
My third and final star for the game is the Rookie of Beniers, Matty. After contributing to the goal that was immediately followed by Ottinger’s shortest start of his career, Beniers was the one that started the scoring in the third, and struck the first nail in the coffin of the Stars’ game. While the Texas hockey team cut the deficit again immediately afterwards, the Kraken were able to stay organized and in tune, and put on an impressive display of offensive defense.
The entire first line this game has been beyond satisfactory. They have been exemplary. Their communication during this game has allowed them to move and adjust in the perfect ways to counter the Stars, and if I could pick the whole line to be my first star, I would. The entirety of the Kraken team played well though, not just the top line, and the Kraken continue to prove how vital their roster depth is to their success. We also saw the Kraken play with their well-known level of intensity and aggression that has been so successful for them, not just during the postseason, but all year as well. This momentum will be very important for the team heading into their final game of the series, which will decide whether the Kraken move on to the Western Conference Final, or finally sink back into the depths of the Puget Sound until September.
The Kraken are a cohesive team. It’s very obvious that both on and off the ice, they care for each other deeply and they want to see each other succeed. They went from being a team that nobody paid much attention to, one that was at the bottom of the standings for the 2021-2022 season, to a team now forcing their way to the seventh and final game of Round 2 against a well established veteran team. The boys have been through a lot together, and they’re determined to finish out this series fighting as hard as they can. A victory against the Dallas Stars will be a hard fought one, but it’s possible. It’s always been possible. We can beat the Stars and Jake Ottinger, and we can stave off the Dallas offense when it really matters. We’ve proven we can hold our own against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, and we must prove that we can hold our own against the Stars. We just need to believe. We need to bring the passion. Most of all, we need the confidence and determination that comes with teamwork, which is something the Kraken showcase well.
It’ll all come down to Monday at American Airlines Center.