Kraken Get Downed In Dallas, Stars Advance to Western Conference Final

Roope Hintz and Wyatt Johnston score as the Stars took down the Kraken 2-1 in Game 7.

Kraken Get Downed In Dallas, Stars Advance to Western Conference Final
Credit: Tim Heitman / Dallas Stars

After a series of blowouts in which each winning team scored at least four goals and the losing team two, Game 7 between the Dallas Stars and the Seattle Kraken was a tight one, with Dallas emerging with a 2-1 win.

Despite having a tremendous edge in scoring chances throughout the game, it wasn't until four minutes left in the second period that Roope Hintz broke the tie off of a breakaway goal. With just over seven minutes to play in the game, ex-teenager Wyatt Johnston got a breakaway of his own, putting Dallas up 2-0. That goal would end up being Johnston's second straight series winner, as Oliver Bjorkstrand finally got one past Jake Oettinger with only 19 seconds left on the clock.

With this win, the second round of the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs is in the books. Dallas will take on the top seed in the West, the Vegas Golden Knights, in the Western Conference Final. These two teams last met in the Western Conference Finals in the 2020 bubble, back when Vegas was coached by a little someone known as Pete DeBoer.

Now DeBoer is on the other side of the ice, after having been fired by Vegas this past offseason. DeBoer, by the way, is now 7-0 all-time in Game 7s, and could reach the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in his coaching career, the previous two trips also being in his first year with a new team.

But why stop there? In a postseason with several big teams eliminated, it really is anyone's Cup to win:

Still, one game at a time, and the time for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final is Friday, May 19th at 7:30 CT.

First Period:

After a rough start to Game 6, the Dallas Stars came out the gates roaring in Game 7. The Stars consistently outchanced the Seattle Kraken throughout the first period, getting several high-danger looks, including a near-miss by Miro Heiskanen off the crossbar early on.

Perhaps no stretch is more definitive of this period than the Stars' sole power play opportunity of the night, thanks to a Eeli Tolvanen cross-checking against Jamie Benn. The Stars spent the entire two minutes in the offensive zone, with the only reprieve for Seattle coming thanks to a puck stoppage with just a few seconds left.

But during those two minutes, the Stars failed to generate a single shot on net despite having 10 shot attempts. The Kraken were relentless on defense, blocking shot after shot and clogging up all potential scoring lanes. It was a stark contrast to the Stars' own penalty kill later in the period – courtesy of a Jamie Benn high-sticking call – in which Dallas killed the penalty by just preventing Seattle from entering and getting setup in the offensive zone.

The fact that the game was still tied after twenty minutes was a blessing for the Kraken, and a knot in the stomach for Stars fans.

Score: Dallas 0, Seattle 0
Shots: Dallas 9, Seattle 9

Second Period:

The second period felt much like the first, with the Stars consistently outchancing the Kraken yet with nothing to show for it. To put things into perspective, at one point towards the end of the period, the ESPN crew pointed out that Dallas had 27 shot attempts in the second period – Seattle had 29 overall.

Still, high-danger scoring chances mean little if you can't score. As already mentioned, Seattle was doing a great job keeping Dallas from getting the puck on net. And the few times they did? Philipp Grubauer put in his best game of the series, if not the playoffs, stopping every high danger look that made it through, including a couple from Tyler Seguin.

But late in the period, Roope Hintz managed to strip the puck away from former Star Jamie Oleksiak, giving him a breakaway. And, well, you know what happened next:

That would be it for the second, with Seattle now heading to the locker room lucky to have only a single goal against instead of zero.

Score: Dallas 1, Seattle 0
Shots: Dallas 20, Seattle 15

Third Period:

With their season on the line, the Kraken did well to start the third period. There was one stretch early on where they were out-chancing Dallas somewhere around 5-1, spending a healthy amount of time in the offensive zone.

As time began to tick down, you could feel the tension in the air, even if you were at home watching on the television. All Seattle needed was a single goal to tie it up, and all Dallas needed was a single goal to (likely) put the game away. It was only a question of who would score first.

And then, Evgenii Dadonov sent the puck flying down the ice, in what 9 times out of 10 would be an icing. But he only sent the puck down because he knew Wyatt Johnston was out ahead, who then immediately pounced on the rebound from the endboards. One backhander later, and the Stars had their breathing room at last:

Heading into tonight, Jaromir Jagr was the youngest player in NHL history to ever score a game-winning goal in Game 7, having been 20 years and 76 days old. Wyatt Johnston ended up beating him by 75 days, in what has already been his second series-winner of his one-year career.

And yes, that means that Jake Oettinger's shutout was spoiled – with Grubauer pulled for the extra skater, Oliver Bjorkstrand finally got one past Oettinger with 19 seconds to spare. But it was too little, too late, and confetti fell from the rafters.

Score: Dallas 2, Seattle 1
Shots: Dallas 28, Seattle 23

Bella Swan from the movie Twilight sighs in relief before raising her fist