Coming off of a disheartening, enraging, use any negative adjective you’d like, loss to the St. Louis Blues on Sunday afternoon; the Dallas Stars climbed back on the horse against the Seattle Kraken. The tilt Wednesday evening would mark the first time the Kraken swam south to the American Airlines Center, and the first occasion the Stars have had to see the newest expansion franchise. The game also represented a game where both teams are trending in different directions. The Kraken are losers of their last 3 games, (1-7-2 in their last 10), while the Stars have strung together impressive performances in route to a 4-1-0 stretch in their last five.
Of note, the Stars are welcoming back former first round draft pick and defenseman Jamie Oleksiak for the first time at the AAC.
The game would start with a bang for the Stars and the home faithful, after the Stars top line of Pavelski, Robertson, and Hintz earned an offensive zone faceoff. The trio gained control, cycled the Kraken down low, ultimately culminating in Jason Robertson ripping a shot off of the toe of Roope Hintz to open the scoring a mere fifty seconds into the evening. The goal continued a pattern of the Stars top line opening the scoring and opening the scoring in the first minute of games.
Just shy of the five minute mark in the period the Stars top line came close again to tacking on the insurance marker. John Klingberg directed the puck towards the net and Robertson nearly directed it in but, caught the post instead. If the game had any narrative that early in the contest it was that the Kraken had simply no answers for the Stars top line or transition through the neutral zone.
Roope Hintz would commit the first minor penalty of the evening when he cross-checked Vince Dunn while racing for a puck in the Kraken end of the rink. The penalty drew a crowd around Hintz, who found himself in a spirited shoving match with Calle Jarnkrok. Speaking of Jarnkrok, the Kraken set up a beautiful low triangle passing play on their power play set, when they worked the puck from high-to-low. The play culminated in a nice goal over Jake Oettinger’s shoulder by Jarnkrok, who received a sweet feed from Johansson. The Kraken power play goal moved the Stars to 0 for 3 on the kill over the past two games.
Canner → Jojo → Jarny → pic.twitter.com/QVINXgQqQm— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) January 13, 2022
Luckily for the Stars the Kraken power play goal wouldn’t keep the game tied for long. The Stars regained zone-time in the Kraken end, working the puck up to Miro Heiskanen, who blasted a puck wide of the net. The puck jumped off of the boards and right to Joe Pavelski who calmly deposited the goal into the open net. The sequence was in line with what the Stars had been trying to establish from puck drop when they had time in the offensive zone. The Stars wingers were constantly cycling the puck up to the points, where the defenseman were ready to direct the puck towards the net or work back down to an open forward. It was something the Kraken were giving the Stars by not contesting the outside of the rink.
Following the go-ahead goal by Pavelski, the Stars forecheck forced Adam Larsson to take a delay-of-game penalty. The standard 5 on 4 power play would last less than a minute when the Kraken’s penalty trouble went from bad to worse as Carson Soucy took a hooking penalty. The 5 on 3 proved costly for the Kraken as the Stars sliced the Seattle penalty kill, eventually finding an open Jason Robertson who slid a backhand past Phillipp Grubauer. The power play goal gave each member of the Stars top line a goal in the hockey game.
Overall, the opening frame from the Stars was simply dominant. Dallas dictated play from the jump, skating at the Kraken in waves. It also appeared as if the Kraken had no answer for the Stars top line, which combined for an absurd eight points in the first period alone.
Dallas 10 Seattle 5
Dallas 3 Seattle 1
Seattle came out on the first few shifts launching themselves into anyone wearing a victory green sweater. It was evident from the increase in physicality out of Seattle that the Stars would, at least for the moment, be forced to earn their way up the ice. Hitting didn’t slow down the Stars top line as Hintz recorded the first quality chance of the period when Robertson hit him streaking in the neutral zone. Hintz never fully separated from the Kraken defense and was stopped by Grubauer on the mini breakaway.
At the five minute mark of the period the Kraken were noticeably better than what they showed in the first. The improvement in their play would pay dividends when Jordan Eberle made a sweet pass from behind the goal line that found Kraken leading goal scorer Jared McCann. McCann picked his spot on Oettinger, cutting the Stars lead in half and punctuating a stretch where the Kraken found their footing.
Following the Kraken goal the Stars continued on their trend downward in the hockey game. The Kraken were controlling the majority of the play, looking more comfortable as they game went along. In terms of the first period domination from the Stars, the domination part seemed stuck in the past as the game had take on a new tenor.
The best chance for the Stars in the latter half of the period came when Jamie Benn intercepted a pass and ripped a pass over to Jacob Peterson. Peterson was away clean and tried to beat Grubauer tweeners, but was ultimately denied in-tight.
With the period reaching its later stages the Stars found themselves in a bit of penalty trouble when Jamie Benn committed a hooking penalty. The power play was the fourth of the game for either team and second for the Kraken. Dallas would never really allow the Kraken to set up their attack, killing the penalty rather easily. Immediately following the conclusion of Benn’s minor penalty the Stars would strike for the fourth time in the evening. Esa Lindell took a puck off of the half-way and walked it in long enough to find Pavelski wide open in front for his second goal of the evening. The goal was the result of a rather terrible turnover by the Kraken, handing the Stars their chance to even up the period and keep the game where it was at the end of the first.
Dallas 18 Seattle 11
Dallas 4 Seattle 2
Compared to the first and second periods, the final frame of the evening started rather gingerly. Early whistles led to a stop and start sequence that slowed the overall pace of play and made it difficult for either team to stack together quality shifts. Fortunately for the Kraken the majority of these restarts took place in the Dallas end of the ice, giving them an early advantage in offensive zone-time. This pace would carry on just shy of the five minute mark, when the Stars would find themselves killing a penalty for third time in the game when Tyler Seguin took a hooking minor in the Seattle end.
Unlike their second attempt on the job, Seattle was able to establish dangerous puck movement through the first ninety seconds of the power-play. Oettinger was sparkling in net, denying Seattle and directing his rebounds expertly out of harms way. Thanks to Oettinger & Co. the Stars survived the Seguin minor and pushed the Kraken to 1 for 3 on the man-advantage.
With the ten minute mark of the period approaching the game looked more and more like an even affair. Gone was the intense physical play from the Kraken and with it, the Stars were able to settle into their standard suffocating late game defense. The Kraken still held the majority of the zone time, but the Stars were able to keep the puck to the outside of the rink. When the Kraken did penetrate the Stars inner defense, Oettinger looked more than comfortable in the crease to meet the moment.
Oettinger would further take over the later stages of the hockey game, coming up big in net on multiple occasions. His best stop of the night came on a pretty Eberle chance in tight, where Oettinger was forced into the splits to get a pad on the attempt. Dallas would cement the evening with a full length of the ice empty net goal by Jani Hakanpaa, his first as a Dallas Stars, pushing the Stars to a 5-2 final.
- The trio of Pavelski-Hintz-Robertson combined for ten points (4 goals, 6 assists)
- Pavelski notched an impressive five point performance (2 goals, 3 assists) and nearly came close to the hat trick in the dying moments had it not been for a great Grubauer stop.
- In further recognition of the top trio’s dominance, they have combined for 31 of the team’s 63 goals on home ice THIS season. (First game all three scored in same game).
- Pavelski mentioned that the top line expects to produce each night and the chemistry from last season is nice to see carry over into this season.
- Tanner Kero made his return after missing time due to his injury sustained against the Blackhawks.
- Esa Lindell mentioned that the Stars feel they go after teams more at home and that it is something that has been missing from the club on the road. He added in the post game availability that it is something the coaching staff and players have been stressing.
- Dallas has won five straight on home ice and is 13-1-0 in a very lengthy stretch of success
- Roope Hintz added that the club needs to find a way to play the way they play at home on the road. This echoes a lot of what the club has been saying and to add, the Stars to a man sounded happy with how they played on Sunday in St. Louis.
- Head Coach Rick Bowness made a point that the club needs other players (forwards) to step up and help out the Stars top line. He highlighted this need on the road, which the Stars find themselves on for six of the next seven games.