The magical playoff ride continued Tuesday. The Seattle Kraken picked up right where they left off after their first-round win over Colorado and beat the Dallas Stars in their building to take a 1-0 series lead.
Game 1 wasn’t devoid of drama, as Seattle had to overcome one of the most epic individual playoff performances we’ve seen, yet somehow, they skated away with a massive 5-4 overtime win.
“That’s how you want to start the series,” said overtime hero, Yanni Gourde. “It’s going to be a tough series. We know how good and strong they are… It’s a huge game, first one.”
Here are our Three Takeaways from another heart-pounding Kraken win, this time over the Stars.
Takeaway #1: A bonkers first period
It was a tad concerning to see the Kraken concede the first goal of the game for the first time all playoffs, when Joe Pavelski rifled a perfect shot past Philipp Grubauer at 2:25 of the first period. Nerves across Seattle were temporarily settled nine minutes later, when Esa Lindell coughed the puck up to Jordan Eberle, who tapped it to Morgan Geekie, who tapped it to Jaden Schwartz, who shuffled it between the pads of Jake Oettinger.
Ok, 1-1 game, everything will calm down from here on, right? WRONG!
Pavelski added his second of the game off a high tip (he is truly the best in the league at tipping pucks) to make it 2-1, then Justin Schultz, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Eberle all scored within a 53-second span to give Seattle a 4-2 lead before the end of the first period.
We won’t painstakingly walk through every goal the Kraken scored in that chaotic frame, but we will say our favorite of the lot was the Schultz goal. That’s because it was the product of good, hard work by the fourth line, with Brandon Tanev winning a board battle against two Dallas players, then Ryan Donato making a perfect pass to Schultz, who had a nice finish.
“We had a pretty good first period,” said Schwartz. “Obviously, they were pretty opportunistic there, but we did a good job of staying with it, coming out, being aggressive… A bit of a wild first period, but I thought we were on our toes, and we were aggressive.”
It was an impressive onslaught by the Kraken, who hung four goals on Oettinger in 15 minutes. That was—as Mike Kelly from NHL Network pointed out—as many goals as Minnesota scored in the last three games of their first-round series against Dallas.
The vibes were good after the first.
Takeaway #2: The Joe Pavelski Show is ruined by Seattle
Pavelski’s two goals in the first were only the opening act of his smash hit spectacular. Coming back from a scary injury after a high hit by Matt Dumba in Game 1 of Dallas versus Minnesota, any production from the 38-year-old Pavelski on this night would have drawn critical acclaim. But Pavelski had a performance for the ages, only to have it ruined by a Seattle win in overtime.
“Joe Pavelski, what a performance,” said coach Dave Hakstol. “I think he’s played close to 1300 NHL regular-season games, and I don’t know how many playoff games. But he showed what kind of a competitor he is tonight. Obviously he gave us a lot of trouble.”
After a much tighter-checking second period, Seattle had a chance to put the game away in the third, when Eberle stole a puck deep in the offensive zone and handed it off to Matty Beniers for what looked like a sure goal. But with a mostly open net, Beniers rang it hard off the post, which kept the lead at 4-2.
A few minutes later, after Dallas had killed Mason Marchment’s undisciplined minor penalty on Geekie that absolutely should have been four minutes, the second act of the Pavelski Show began.
Jamie Benn took a shot that hit Philipp Grubauer right in the chest. The sure-handed playoff version of Grubauer looked like he was ready to clamp that puck down for a whistle, but it popped out for Pavelski to bang home his easiest goal of the night, and that brought out the hats.
The Pavelski Show finally reached its climax at 13:23 of the third when he batted a puck out of the air to beat Grubauer for the fourth time on the night.
“Pavelski had a good night,” said Schwartz. “[He had] a couple good redirections, and that’s where he scores a lot of his goals, so we’ve got to be aware of that and take his stick away a little bit better.”
Takeaway #3: The Kraken are a resilient bunch
We didn’t know how the Kraken would act in this contest, just one day removed from a highly emotional Game 7 victory in Denver. We also didn’t know how they would respond after getting scored on first, something that didn’t happen in any of the previous seven playoff games. We also didn’t know how the Kraken would handle it if a player on the other team scored four goals against them, while simultaneously erasing a two-goal lead in the third period.
What did the Kraken do each time they got punched? They just got right back up and punched back, of course.
“Obviously, you don’t want to give up two goals, [when you] go into the third leading by two,” said Gourde. “That’s something we can clean up. But I love the response, I loved our composure, I loved the poise. We’re a pretty mature group, and we trusted that the process was going to get it done.”
A prime example of the team’s resiliency was Grubauer, who has been unflappable in this postseason. He juggled a puck that led to Pavelski’s third goal, but he bounced back for overtime and made two massive saves in a row on Roope Hintz and Ty Dellandrea to prolong the game just enough.
It was just moments after that pair of saves that the Kraken got set up in the Stars zone and created havoc. Bjorkstrand took a shot that hit Oettinger and pinballed around to his left. Three Dallas players had a crack at clearing it, but Yanni Gourde just kept whacking away and somehow kept the broken play alive. Finally, the puck sat up on its side for Gourde to take a swing at it, and it launched up and over Oettinger’s shoulder to give the Kraken a 5-4 win.
That game was surely not how Hakstol drew it up, but for Seattle to go into a new building in a new series and get this thing off on the right foot shows—yet again—the incredible character of this group.
What a win.