Dallas, TX – To end an almost storybook second season in franchise history, the Seattle Kraken fell in a tightly contested game seven in Dallas against the Stars. Game seven Grubauer made another appearance, keeping his team in the game with numerous big saves and denials. Unfortunately, like many great pitchers for our Mariners, Grubauer couldn’t get any support in terms of the offense in front of him and mistakes eventually were the downfall of the Kraken. Dallas took advantage of a turnover by Seattle defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and caught the Kraken defense playing aggressively to result in a two-goal hole that proved insurmountable.
“You draw a perspective after time, but you got a pretty clear perspective of this group of guys and the type of team and the type of teammates that they are. We pushed as hard as we could push tonight. We couldn’t find our Top Gear and give Dallas a lot of credit in that regard. I thought they answered to a certain degree. They answered the game that we played in Game six. 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,” Dave Hakstol, Seattle Kraken head coach, on his overall reflection of the game.
Unlike their games one, three, and six starts, the Kraken failed to get out on the front foot with pressure and physicality against the Stars in this series deciding game seven. Dallas brought the pressure early and often after a small initial surge from Seattle, forcing Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer to make numerous saves while the skaters sacrificed their bodies with numerous blocked shots. On the road, against a deep and talented team like the Stars, it makes sense that Seattle was going to get pushed a bit, but it was disappointing considering the capability of this team displayed throughout these Stanley Cup Playoffs. Although the shot total through the first 20 minutes was tied at nine, the Stars had generated far more dangerous opportunities than the Kraken had and were getting whatever looks that they wanted.
Two critical mistakes resulted in goals for the Dallas Stars, and those mistakes ended up being the dagger driven into the Seattle Kraken season. The first of those two came as Dallas had been applying merciless pressure to Grubauer, as the goaltender was forced to make numerous big saves in different situations to keep things level as we approached second intermission. Stars defenseman Esa Lindell had cleared a puck from his own zone up the ice, where it found a retreating Jamie Oleksiak. The puck took on odd first bounce, dying upon impact and not sliding to the back-skating Oleksiak, catching the Kraken defenseman off guard. The ball of energy he’s been all series, Roope Hintz had kept an eye on the play and pursued, swooping the puck away from the stick of Oleksiak and wristing a shot past Grubauer all in a few quick motions.
Seattle pressed on, getting some danger in their opportunities, but nothing was getting by Dallas netminder Jake Oettinger. Despite the goal against, Grubauer remained locked in as the Stars searched for the insurance goal that could get them into the Western Conference final. With seven minutes left, Dallas’ search was over, in a play that went the full length of the ice. Stars forward Evgenii Dadonov retrieved a puck that the Kraken had sent around the boards, finding a teammate down the ice and through a few Seattle skaters. The puck bounced cleanly off the boards to Dallas rookie Wyatt Johnston, who used a wicked backhand shot to sneak up the shoulder of Grubauer and in. Although Seattle forward Oliver Bjorkstrand found a goal with 17 seconds left, Johnston’s score had nailed Seattle into a coffin they couldn’t bust out of. The voyage had ended, running ashore in Big D.
“Yeah, two game sevens. I think we’ve done a great job. I don’t think we came out as good as we did in game six, but we found a way to battle back there. And, yeah, I’m really proud of this group and how we played the whole season and the playoffs and tough pill to swallow, for sure,” Philipp Grubauer, Seattle Kraken goaltender, on tonight’s game.
Seattle heads into only their second offseason ever, with plenty to be happy about and numerous different angles to look at in a positive light. The first order of business that may come to mind could be upcoming free agents, most notable being Vince Dunn who had a career year for the Kraken. Some of the names that Seattle will have to make decisions on include Joonas Donskoi, Carson Soucy, Ryan Donato, Will Borgen, and Daniel Sprong the most likely to be pondered over the most. Awards season will come, with Matty Beniers likely taking home the Calder trophy, and then the NHL Draft will come around in a time that brings potential to add you with selections or the possibility to trade those picks for proven commodities.