DALLAS – The Dallas Stars have their top line back together – and are a victory away from advancing to the Western Conference finals.
Roope Hintz had two goals and an assist, Joe Pavelski scored his seventh goal of the second-round series and Jason Robertson assisted on all the goals by his primary linemates in a 5-2 win over the Seattle Kraken in Game 5 on Thursday night.
“Our best players have to be your best players if you’re going to move through the playoffs,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “And you know, that line (and) Otter was great.”
Goalie Jake Oettinger had 29 saves for the Stars, who take a 3-2 lead into Game 6 on Saturday in Seattle.
It was Pavelski’s second game back with on the No. 1 line with Hintz and Robertson.
“On the same line a couple of years now, so whenever we get back together, everything comes natural,” Robertson said. “And in the playoffs we need that.”
Pavelski also had an assist on Hintz’s second goal, which ricocheted hard out of the net with 8:37 left for a two-goal lead, though play continued for nearly a half-minute before a replay review that confirmed the score. Radek Faksa added an empty-netter with 3:17 to go.
Hintz has eight goals and 10 assist in the Stars’ 11 games this postseason. Pavelski missed the last five games in their first-round series against Minnesota while in concussion protocol after a hit in Game 1.
When Pavelski returned in the opener against the Kraken, he scored all four of Dallas’ goals in a 5-4 overtime loss. He was then began on a different line, like he also did in Games 2 and 3.
Rookie center Wyatt Johnston also scored for the Stars, who are hoping to repeat the pattern from their opening-round series against Minnesota. They also lost that opener in overtime at home and were down 2-1 in the series before winning three in a row and wrapping up with a road win.
Down 2-0 only 5 1/2 minutes into the game, and 3-0 when Pavelski scored on an odd-man rush in the opening minute of the second period, the second-year Kraken cut the gap to 3-2 when Adam Larsson and Jared McCann scored in the second period.
“We spot them two right off the bat, You know, I thought for the most part, we were we were skating and we we we’re moving the puck … but you look at the scoreboard,” Kraken forward Jordan Eberle said. “I like the way that we fought back.”
McCann, their leading goal scorer with 40 in the regular season, got his first of the playoffs and became the 18th Kraken player to score this postseason. It was only his second game back after missing six in a row due to an injury after getting hurt on a late hit from Colorado’s Cale Makar early in Game 4 of the first round.
When Pavelski scored on a backhander in the opening minute of the second period, knocking in his own rebound, he extended his record for U.S.-born players to 71 career postseason goals.
That matched Sidney Crosby for the second-most career playoff goals by an active player, one behind Alex Ovechkin. Pavelski and Crosby are tied with Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier for 17th on the overall list.
Dallas was up 1-0 when captain Jamie Benn gathered a blocked puck behind the net and made a quick pass in front to Johnston. Robertson, who in the regular season became the first 100-point scorer for Dallas, had assists on the next three goals even though his own goal drought stretched to six games.
Hints got his first goal with a top-shelf shot from the top of the left circle over the shoulder of Phillip Grubauer, who stopped 16 shots.
“We gave them the opportunities that they had,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “The first one, it’s just a quick play that we kind of stab at instead of being able to kind of take command of the puck and make a play on that, and the second one off transition.”
There was a moment of silence and reflection observed before the national anthem for the city of Allen and the victims of a mass shooting at a crowded outdoor shopping mall last Saturday about 30 miles from the arena. Players from both teams wore “Allen Strong” decals on their helmets. It was the first time the series was back in Dallas since the shooting in which eight people were killed and seven others were wounded during the four-minute rampage before the shooter was killed by a police officer.