SEATTLE — For their first venture into the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Seattle Kraken are giving their fans quite the exciting, yet stressful experience.
Two playoff series. And now, a second Game 7.
“That’s all you can ask for These games are what makes playoff hockey fun,” Seattle’s Jordan Eberle said.
Eberle scored twice, Eeli Tolvanen had a goal and two assists, and the Kraken beat the Dallas Stars 6-3 on Saturday night to force a deciding Game 7 in their Western Conference semifinal series.
Tolvanen’s goal in the opening minutes of the second period gave Seattle a 3-1 lead. Rookie Tye Kartye scored his third of the playoffs beating Jake Oettinger with a wrist shot less than three minutes later, and the Kraken withstood several pushes by the Stars to send the series back to Texas.
“We were ready tonight. I feel like last couple games they’ve been maybe the ready team at the start,” Tolvanen said. “That was the big key today. All four lines were ready to play.”
Matty Beniers and Yanni Gourde each added a goal and an assist for Seattle, which is headed to the second Game 7 in its short playoff history after ousting defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado with a 2-1 win in the deciding game of the opening round. The Kraken are the sixth team in league history to go to a Game 7 in each of the franchise’s first two playoff series.
Philipp Grubauer stopped 20 shots for the win.
“We had a goal in mind. We wanted to make sure that we were still one of the six teams alive when we woke up tomorrow morning and have the opportunity to go and play a Game 7,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “We know the test. We know the challenge. It’ll be a big one, but we’ll be ready.”
Mason Marchment, Joe Pavelski and Joel Kiviranta scored for Dallas. Oettinger gave up four goals on 18 shots before he was pulled 4 1/2 minutes into the second period. Scott Wedgewood came on and stopped nine of the 10 shots he faced.
Game 7 will be Monday night in Dallas.
“I mean, their lives were on the line. They played desperate hockey and played a good game,” Dallas captain Jamie Benn said.
The Stars last played a Game 7 in the second round of the 2020 playoffs in the NHL bubble in Edmonton when Dallas beat Colorado 5-4 in overtime. This will be first Game 7 in Dallas since the second round in 2016, when Stars lost 6-1 to St. Louis after giving up three first-period goals.
Pavelski scored his 72nd career playoff goal and his eighth of the series when he redirected Miro Heiskanen’s shot from the point during a power play in the second period. Pavelski is tied with Alex Ovechkin for the most playoff goals among active players.
And he could have had more. Pavelski nearly added a second goal in the opening seconds of the third period, but his shot hit the post and Heiskanen’s rebound attempt slid wide of the goal mouth. Moments later, Jason Robertson’s shot from the slot hit the same post and ricocheted away from danger.
Seattle appeared to put a wrap on the win when Beniers finished a 2-on-1 off a pass from Eberle with his third playoff goal at 8:43 of the third period following a key penalty kill by the Kraken. But 16 seconds later Kiviranta tipped Thomas Harley’s shot from the point past Grubauer to pull the Stars back to 5-3.
It created an unnerving final few minutes for Seattle until Eberle’s empty-netter with 58 seconds left.
“We had nothing to lose, obviously backs against the wall,” Eberle said. “So we’re going to have the same effort in Game 7.”
Grubauer was excellent in goal for Seattle, especially in the second period when Dallas made a push. He had 11 saves in the period.
Oettinger was pulled after giving up Kartye’s goal and his 24 minutes, 23 seconds time on ice was the shortest start of his career.
Gourde gave Seattle the start it needed, following up his initial shot and beating Oettinger at 8:59 of the first period. Marchment scored 31 seconds later to pull the Stars even, but Eberle’s power-play goal at 16:46 of the period restored Seattle’s advantage.
“When the other team is hungry like that in an elimination game and you’re on the road, you got to be at least be the smarter team with the puck,” Dallas coach Pete DeBoer said. “I felt we compounded mistakes and fed their energy in the first period.”